If you’ve been following my blog or other social media via @elketeaches, you likely know that I am a Digital Technologies and Business Teacher. I have worked previously as an IT Analyst and also as a tertiary Instructor teaching IT, eCommerce, Systems Analysis & Design, Business Management, and Economics. However, I started at a new school in the public Education Queensland system in March this year and I taught my first Year 10 Design class and Year 7/8 Design & Digital class. To be honest, I have found the Design and Technologies (Years 7-10) Curriculum to be relatively easy to move into since a lot of what I have been teaching for years includes many design elements.
DESIGN & TECH (YEAR 10) SOLAR UNIT
I designed and successfully taught a new Year 10 Solar unit using the new Design and Technologies Year 9-10 Australian Curriculum. I developed a Design & Tech solar unit that required students to learn about how we use solar power and I focused on design topics such as sustainability and user-centred design principles. I hooked students by showing them videos/images on tiny off-the-grid homes, floating solar farms and solar-powered agriculture. I taught them basic circuitry by making LED & conductive tape greeting cards; we first used 3V coin cell batteries inside and then we hooked them up to 2 x 1.5V solar panels in the sun. The unit assessment required that students use an iterative design approach to research, plan, design, and evaluate their own solar-powered product. Students also developed prototypes using a rapid prototyping technique with minimal resources (paper, glue, cardboard, LEDs, mini motors, 3V solar panels, conductive tape, etc.).
DESIGN & TECH + DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES (YEAR 7/8) – GAME CONTROLLER DESIGN & GAME DEVELOPMENT
This unit was designed to combine both Design and Digital curriculum in only 1 term. This unit has been changed dramatically since I have started at this school because the original plan was simply too big for only a 1 term introduction to Design and Digital Technologies. The unit is based on project based design principles where students work in teams of 4 to develop a game and a controller. The game is developed in RPG Maker and students use their prior-knowledge of gaming, plus research, to develop a game storyboard based on game design elements. I would argue that the RPG Maker software is not a great tool to teach programming fundamentals however, it is relatively easy for students to learn to use and develop a satisfactory game. The team also researches and designs for game controllers focusing on making decisions between unique designs and the ergonomic needs of the gamer. Students have the option of using a VR to design their game controller but the ‘hype’ and excitement of using the VR is quickly surpassed by the far superior results of designing a controller using Tinkercad. Students then 3D print their controllers and they may need to chisel-out 3D printed supports and/or drill button holes bigger to fit the controller buttons. Many teams often re-design their controllers after their first 3D print when they realise that their designs lack enough room for buttons or their cut-out designs do not have pleasing results. I then teach teams individually about circuits, how to strip wire, connect wire to buttons and then test their controllers using a MakeyMakey. Last term I had one advanced team that also spent a couple of lessons in the last week of term using an iterative design approach to find the best dimensions/shape for a paper parachute for 3D printed ducks.
INVITING DR. GARY STAGER TO MY SCHOOL – THE INVENT TO LEARN MASTERCLASS
An absolute highlight of my teaching career last term was when Dr Gary Stager visited our school and ran a full-day Invent to Learn Masterclass. It was exciting to pick up Gary from his hotel in the morning and ask him questions about his opinion on Education today. It was lovely and very inspiring to meet many other teachers from our local area, as well as a couple of teachers from NSW and the NT. It was a fun day of learning, collaborating and making. As I experienced this day of fun, I realised how important it is to engage students in their learning. I love teaching and I believe I particularly enjoy teaching Digital Tech and Design because they are both naturally very hands-on types of subjects. I highly recommend attending a Gary Stager event; he’s inspiring and you will learn exciting ways to integrate Design & Tech and Digital Tech curriculum into your own teaching practice.