Bridge Design Challenge

This unit of work has been designed as a partnership project with learners and teachers working in partnership with the Forestry Commission Scotland and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The case study task included in this unit also provides learners with an outdoor learning opportunity providing relevance and depth to the curriculum. The real-world context, use of partnership working to provide live clients for the design challenge and problem based nature of this unit create an authentic context which should both engage and motivate learners, providing challenge and enjoyment in line with the Principles of Curriculum Design.

The big task associated with this unit of work contains an element of competition with each learners design solution being tested and evaluated by the client ending in one winning design proposal. The inclusion of this competitive element can be seen as a further motivator for learner engagement and also provides an opportunity for personal achievement, listed as one of the purposes of senior phase education.

The underlying focus of this unit of work is sustainability. The unit aims to inform learners about the issue of climate change and ways in which CO2 emissions can be reduced through carbon capture and the use of wood in construction from local, responsibly managed forests instead of other materials such as metals and plastics. The knowledge and understanding of issues relating to sustainability developed in this unit will assist learners in becoming responsible citizens who are able to evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues, develop informed, ethical views of complex issues and make informed choices and decisions.

This unit of work has been developed as an interdisciplinary STEM project based on National 4 and 5 Engineering Science and including elements of Mathematics, Physics and Graphical Communication. Interdisciplinary projects allow learners to make connections between different subject areas and provide the opportunity to create inspiring contexts that provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences. It is my intention that different sections of this unit will be taught by staff from each of these subjects, providing expertise in each area and making the links between each subject explicit to learners and. It is also intended that the interdisciplinary, STEM setting of this unit will provide an exciting and thought provoking context for learners.

Throughout this unit there are opportunities to develop skills for learning, life and work. The cost and presentation of the design solution to the client are integral to the success of the project, developing learner s enterprise and presentation skills. The majority of tasks within the unit support the development of learners’ numeracy and literacy skills. Learners also take part in two group work activities developing their employability skills and capacities as effective contributors. The design challenge develops learner s creativity and thinking skills requiring them to understand and apply knowledge to analyse, evaluate and solve a design problem, developing their capacities as successful learners and effective contributors who are able to think creatively, solve problems and make reasoned evaluations.

As this unit is designed to fulfil outcomes from National 4 and 5 courses, summative assessment will be conducted under SQA guidelines. Formative assessment will also be used throughout the unit to support the learning process, inform next steps and provide a good basis for reporting on progress. Learners will receive feedback on their designs and presentations from the client and are asked to undertake self-assessment by evaluating successful and unsuccessful designs at the end of the unit. The incorporation of self-assessment in this unit links to the roles and responsibilities laid out by The Scottish Government which state that learners should review their own learning through self-assessment and that teachers should involve learners fully in assessment .

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Putting the Hope back in Hope Hill

This unit of work engages young people in a project that is rich in scope but also grounded in a real world, authentic context that will be tangible to Scottish school children. Set in a fictional town in West Lothian, the project exposes learners to issues of sustainable development. This context will be pertinent to many living in towns that have suffered from industrial decline and are now seeking new identities as they expand with new housing and associated infrastructure. Based loosely on the new Heartlands development adjacent to Whitburn in West Lothian, which is one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe; young people will learn about how the provision of power, housing and the treatment of waste can be a sustainable process.

One of the key learning theories employed in this unit is the use of an authentic learning context that has tangible links to life beyond school, particularly with regards to the world of work and global citizenship. Authenticity in education is the provision of learning experiences that relate to the lives of pupils and experiences that they are likely to encounter later in adult life (Hennessy and Murphy, 1999). It is argued by Snape & Foz-Turnbull (2013) that authentic projects which have ‘real-world’ contexts expose learners to a wider range of experiences that are transferable to the situations that they are likely to encounter in the workplace, therefore fostering a sense of responsibility for life beyond the classroom. Continue reading “Putting the Hope back in Hope Hill”