— In the News: Challenge within a chair’s construction

The Half Moon Bay Review published an article about our seventh graders’ project in the Innovation Lab: Challenge within a chair’s construction: Educator looks at everyday objects in a different way. They prototyped four chairs out limited materials as part of their Explorations and the results were remarkable.

Sea Crest School students were recently challenged to think outside the box — outside the cardboard box, to be exact.

As part of a semester-long exploration class, aspiring makers were required to enhance an old office chair using nothing more than masking tape, cardboard and hot glue.

The lesson took place in the Innovation Lab, a maker-space where tinkering is not only encouraged, it is expected.

“During the summer, I saw a lot of old chairs in the hallway that were going to be thrown out,” said Patrick Neary, Innovation Lab manager at Sea Crest School. “There was a lot of cardboard that was also going to be thrown out. I thought maybe there was a way to upcycle both slightly and see what we could do with them.

“It occurred to me that the curved, rotating chair was a common thing, almost in contrast with these big square boxes,” he continued. “One of the things that I was concerned with was challenging the kids about their basic assumptions about things.”

Before the course, most students would look at the chair and disregard it as a utilitarian object. After completing the project, it was clear that the students would no longer take the art of sitting for granted.

Innovation Lab Chair“To get started, the kids had to think about how does this chair come about?” said Neary. “Once they re-examined this common object, they could start to reinvent it.”

Part of that process included deconstructing a few samples in order to gain a clear understanding of how the chair worked.

Innovation Lab Chair“Some of the students used power tools, like drills, to pull out the screws,” said Neary. “The students then had to figure out how many screws were used and why.”

Once the kids understood how the chair worked, they were challenged to improve upon the design. Neary created four teams. Students drew lots to determine who was in each group.

“It was random,” said Neary. “Some students liked the partners they were grouped with, others had never really talked before as partners.”

The newly created groups started sketching out their ideas as they began working to build a better chair.

Once the drawing was complete, the makers-in-the-making moved into the physical world of construction.

“The students experienced obstacles of different viewpoints and agendas that required that the students collaborate, negotiate and corporate,” said Neary.

The students worked hard on their final designs, pieces of cardboard that were held together with nothing more than masking tape and hot glue.

The groups then presented their projects to a panel of judges that assessed the projects on the basis of collaboration, the mindful use of the materials, the overall design aesthetic, and the cleanliness of the final construction.

There was also one more catch, the completed prototype had to support the weight of the intended user, whether a student or an adult.

The results were stunning to say the least. One group opted for a minimalistic design going heavy on the masking tape. The end product was a sleek chair sure to hold up under the average adult. Others were more creative, adding butterfly wings, cup holders, and slots for books.

 

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