BCIS Grade 11 students recently were hard at work innovating and creating on a collaborative project simply titled, “The Group 4 Project,” which is based on design thinking that uses science to form the “Why” of design’s “How.” As an interdisciplinary activity in which all Diploma Programme Science & Design Technology students must participate in, the intention was that students from the four different science subjects (Design Technology, Chemistry, Biography, and Physics) had to analyze a common topic or problem together and explore it from different perspectives. In this case, they were asked for assistance by Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots to aid in the sustainable development of elements for and within the two gardens the group possesses in the Elementary School and Secondary School, respectively, which are currently in various degrees of inactivity.
The exercise was a collaborative experience where emphasis is placed on the processes involved in solving a problem as a multidisciplinary team. These include empathizing with the “client” and discussing what they would like out of the project; gathering inspiration through brainstorming sessions and sharing ideas; defining a challenge and solving it as a team; creating a project plan that is feasible; identifying flaws and making the proper improvements; and at last, building a working prototype that will make a positive impact to the environment it will be placed in.
Some students worked on designs dealing with vertical gardening and zeroscape gardening. Student Julia mentioned her team, Group 1, “created a container titled, ‘Planter Box with Compost,’ that will hold up to eight plants, all self-sufficient.” They built it with the idea to compost organic waste, such as newspapers, leaves, grass, vegetables, and fruits to help the plants inside live on their own. The members of Group 8 set out to provide a solution for the question: “How can we create functional, durable, and environmentally appropriate planting systems?” Their answer: “Through vertical gardens, automatic watering systems, and recyclable materials!” By figuring out how much water different plants need and how to build levels without interfering with sun exposure, they built a vertical garden, container, system hybrid that was a functional work of art in itself. Speaking of which, Group 10 tackled the question: “How do we attract birds to our garden?” They in turn created an aesthetically pleasing bird feeder that could be passed off as a work of art as well.
Aquaponics, which is a portmanteau of the aquaculture and hydroponic agriculture, is the term this group carefully considered throughout their various brainstorming sessions. Student Jerry stated they chose this as their topic, “making a shelf for four plants that will be self-sufficient.” Student Channing and the rest of the Group 7 members also chose to create a drainage system that water is drained on or in the soil to enhance the agricultural production of crops. Their idea was also based on aquaponics. Others built items with the purpose of attracting “good bugs” and helping the gardens become “Beijing-proof.” There was much variety and creativity present throughout the projects.
After the completion of their products, the students gave inspiring presentations to their parents, teachers, and peers on what they have learned and gained through the project, including newly developed skills and understandings. Looking over the wonderful products they built, the young creative minds, without a doubt, successfully completed their mission to create durable, functional, and environmentally appropriate items that will be a great contribution to this long-term project.