Design at Northbridge International School Cambodia is a unique subject with many different components, all of which aim to help students develop an understanding of the real world applications of design and, as such, the class is taught in a very hands-on fashion.
The MYP Design Cycle forms the basis of all units and students are taught that through the use of the design cycle comes an understanding of ‘Design Thinking’. Students are provided support and structure throughout design units in order to develop their real life design skills and ability to transfer these to their world beyond school.
Beginning in Grade 6, Design units contain contrived situations called a ‘design challenge’ to allow for explicit teaching of skills, such as hand tools. As students move through the MYP these situations take on a more real world focus, and become known as ‘design problems’.
In a design problem, the teacher acts more as a facilitator for each student and is there to assist students in many different ways, depending on the type of project undertaken.
Currently, Grade 10 students have been given a list of digital and physical design problems that they can choose from based on their personal interests, all of these projects will benefit the school community in some way and require different skill sets.
Grade 9 students will be using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to bring some colour to the upper Secondary Building, working in groups they will create whole door designs that incorporate the subject, colour preferences and other aspects of the teachers in each room.
Grade 8 students are beginning a unit called ‘Into the Nagas’ Lair’ where they will work in teams to create a prototype of a realistic product that directly addresses a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Each team will present their finished solution to a live panel of ‘Nagas’ in the hope of gaining support for their product, the Nagas will be teachers and older students who are knowledgeable about the SDGs.
Grade 7 are learning about UX (User Experience) which is an important aspect of product design. Students will make sure UX is forefront in their minds as they learn to create a mobile phone app that directly addresses an SDG, using code.org the apps will run on any device and will give our students a taste of what is required to create an app in real life.
Grade 6 students are creating a functional object using vector software and the laser cutter, the skills they learn will be built upon in future years and units.
Semester 1 saw students create an amazing array of digital and physical products, from the unforgettable obstacle course Grade 10 made and ran for the school on StuCo day, to the many different toys Grade 8 have made for their Kindergarten clients. These toys are to be presented to Kindy next week, while it took longer than we expected, I am pleased to say that enthusiasm for the project has not waned and the end results are amazing.
Grade 7 students used Minecraft to design sustainable cities and I thank them for putting up with the many technical glitches that we experienced along the way.
Grade 9 students also experienced glitches that were beyond their control and again, I thank them for continuing to work hard right until the end of the unit. Grade 6 students created pop-up story books and these looked fantastic and demonstrated the deep wealth of talent in the grade.
Design is a dynamic subject that is often misunderstood, but to sum up why it is a necessary subject I relate the story of a Grade 10 student last semester, who had never built anything before, after fixing the final screw into the wood of his project, took a step back, looked at the result of weeks of work and said, “That is so satisfying…. What can I build next?”