At the beginning of the school year, these teachers came to the Lab and we discussed ways to incorporate what we do here (design process, digital fabrication, etc.) into this new theme in their curriculum. In the past, we had done sessions on light and sound. After learning about both, we would experiment with different materials. After that, students would make systems that "move" light (with mirrors) and they would create sound making devices.
This year, we changed the session on light to one dealing with reflection. Students learned about material properties (transparent, translucent, opaque, those that absorb light and those that reflect) and then experimented with various items to get a real grasp of what each was.
As the new years began, we took this to the next level. We were asked to design a solid item that students could use to help them think about the abstract ideas needed to reflect on a story. We came up with a board that had a space for a mirror (for self-reflection) and a "window" (to reflect on new experiences the children are seeing for the first time). In regards to the window, it is an opportunity for students to empathize and think about a "story" from another (character's) perspective. This would include it being a character in a story they are reading or a character in their own story (sister, brother, mom, dad, friend, teacher...).
As prototypes were made, new questions came up...could kids personalize these boards? How could they do that? Can the mirror go "here"? Can the board have rounded corners? After a few iterations, we came up with this:
All the students had been to the Lab so they knew about the 3D printers and the laser cutter. They had also done a laser project in December (their Christmas ornaments) which gave them an experience to draw from. We had a mini-lesson: first we discussed fabrication (additive and subtractive), then looked at different examples of what makes a good image to laser and what makes a not-good image.
Next we showed them the template they would use. They would be writing their name in the long box. If they wanted a frame around their mirror, they would draw it in the box. If they wanted curtains for their window, they would put the window frame under their paper and draw what they wanted on the top paper. We touched on the design process as we talked about the importance of having a plan before you begin. One young lady suggested drawing in pencil first and then tracing it with marker.
After the children do their part, we'll bring the drawings into the Lab and we'll do the "technical" stuff using a scanner and Inkscape to put all the pieces together before we cut them out of wood.