Skills of analysis and research are a key tool to success at GCSE and A Level and although in year 8 this may seem a long way off it is never too early to start developing these crucial skills. The desk tidy project is one which has been modelled around the format of a GCSE style project. Within in this they have the opportunity to review the work of others; both student work and that of design professionals. Giving opinions on aesthetics, ergonomics, material choices and safety are just some of the considerations that the students will need to factor into their own work. Analysing existing products is good practice and features in this project from the very start.
Communication is another vital component and being able to draw in 3D, produce rough sketches which show detail and annotating to explain features and functions is another part of this unit of work. Choosing a client, they need to carry out market research and write specifications which will focus their designs around who their product is targeted at. Through initial designs, evaluations, modelling and development they arrive at a chosen solution which then has to be planned and manufactured. The students are given a choice of materials and processes (both CAD/CAM and traditional skills) which they can adopt for their desk tidy, with all of these needing to be considered carefully to ensure the product functions as they want it to. DT and maths go hand in hand and students have to produce accurate material cutting lists which take into account dimensions of products to be stored and material thicknesses.
This is a new project which we have introduced this year and what we have seen already is how much it promotes independent learning and has enabled the students to demonstrate good problem solving skills and resilience.