Learning Beyond The Classroom
May 14, 2021
One of the hallmarks of any great school is the way in which its students and graduates are equipped to undertake autonomous and lifelong learning. At TIGS we work hard to provide every student with rich opportunities, experiences and challenges that we hope will hone existing passions and introduce entirely new ways of learning. In recent weeks, Jack and Raffe (Year 8 students) have demonstrated exceptional skills as self-starters, engaging in enquiry and project-based learning. During Term I, they negotiated and shaped a personalised independent learning pathway that was enriched by the skills, expertise and resources available from the School.
What can you tell us about your learning journey?
During Term I, we heard about a new and exciting online engineering course being offered by an ex-NASA engineer, Mark Rober. The first section of the course involved brainstorming and some R&D before the second half which involved making a product.
The course itself provided a lot of planning videos and basic guidelines on how to set and achieve realistic goals. The basic principle of the course was to be guided through three projects where the host would create his own product and give tips along the way to aid us with our personal project. There were videos about Arduino, 3D printing, Computer-Aided Design, and even a guide showing how to make a video in “the Mark Rober style”!
Our final product was an LED Cube, powered by an Arduino, that could be used as a bedroom decoration and alarm clock. It also had a temperature sensor that would light the LEDs according to the temperature.
How did you manage your time?·
Since the course started in the last week of Term I, we were able to make this the main focus for the school holiday. Although not having homework and assignments gave us more time to work on the course individually. It did bring up a new challenge which was working out how to undertake cooperative work on the course when we weren’t both at school together. We overcame this with a mix of video calls and meeting up to further our thinking and build our projects.
What challenges did you encounter and what did you learn?
During the course, we learned how laser cutting works and a lot about coding in C++. We also developed a good awareness for seeing problems and designing solutions that we wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. Time management was a challenge throughout the process and we worked hard to keep to our deadlines but one of the largest setbacks was finding a way to control each LED in our product so that they could each be controlled individually with limited materials at hand. In the end, it took around 30 hours of coding but we found a solution and we are really pleased with the final product.
The course continued after the holiday and we were helped by Mrs Chapple and Mr McIlwraith in the TAS Department. We encountered some problems with 3D printing at home but we were able to use the school’s laser cutter and other equipment to create our final product. Our teachers and Mr Hackett gave us advice and allowed us to benefit from their expertise both before and after the holiday and we’d like to thank them. And a special mention to Mr Foxall who gave us support over several afternoons, after school in the Library.
What’s next for you?
With the course completed, we are now trying to make our own 3D printer which is quite an ambitious project! If we get time we might also like to improve the code for our LED cube to allow it to have more effects.
We are looking forward to seeing what these enterprising engineers of tomorrow produce over the coming years!