Design Museum: Steam Design

Sponsor: Design Museum DesignMuseumD16_photo
Sponsor Liaison: David Houston
Student Team: Anthony Campagna
Ezra Davis
Paul DePlacido
Miya Gaskell
Abstract: Our project team developed 16 educational resources for students ages seven to fourteen that link to the Design Museum in London and the United Kingdom curriculum. Our team researched educational materials, met with educational professionals, created lesson plans and museum visit materials, and evaluated our resources via a pilot programme. We then revised our materials based on our findings to assist the students’ knowledge and interest in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics).
Link: Final Report (DesignMuseumD16_report)
Final Presentation (DesignMuseumD16_presentation)

Executive Summary

Design education in the United Kingdom (UK) is currently in a state of crisis (D&T Association, 2016). Students in recent years have displayed a 10% decrease in interest in the subject of design and technology (Hutchinson & Bentley, 2011). Design is a method of problem solving applied to a product and results in aesthetic or functional improvement (Kane, 2002). Educational organisations associated with the UK government have made changes to how they measure school attainment as an attempt to improve a student’s education, with the consequence of marginalising art and design subjects (D&T Association 2016). STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, is the idea of implementing creative subjects into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programmes. However, STEAM is relatively new compared to STEM programmes and most educators have not implemented it into their classrooms (Boy, 2013). To compensate for the lack of creative approaches in STEM, third-party organisations, such as Children’s British Broadcasting Company and the London Science Museum, have tried to incorporate a hands-on and more enjoyable approach to STEM learning. To achieve its vision of educating everyone about design, the Design Museum saw a need to develop educational resources to inform and engage students about the design process and to apply it to the students’ schoolwork.

For our project, we created a set of educational resources for the Design Museum in London. Specifically, we created two sets of six lesson plans as part of a teacher pack for use in a classroom, one for key stage two (KS2) and one for key stage three (KS3) which include ages seven to fourteen, as well as museum visit resources for use before, during, and after a class’s visit to the Design Museum. We structured our resources for use in STEAM programmes because the Design Museum’s goal is to teach students how to apply design thinking to STEAM subjects. In this document, we detail our project methodology, results, conclusions, and recommendations.

In order to develop our educational resources, we created the following objectives: identify traits of teaching tools that teachers prefer, create museum visit materials and teacher packs based on the Design Museum’s new exhibition, and finally assess the newly created lesson plan via a pilot programme, analyse the results, and adjust the material accordingly. We began our research by conducting several interviews with KS2 and KS3 teachers. From the interviews, we obtained information about teacher preferences, as well as information on student behaviour. In addition to the teacher interviews, we learned about CREST Awards, observed several teaching styles, and met with Design Museum staff to discuss what traits we should include in our educational resources. The teachers we interviewed at both schools gave us unanimous feedback that group work was more engaging for students than individual work. The KS2 and KS3 teachers indicated the length of our activities should be between 30 – 60 minutes to fit into one class. The KS2 teachers suggested that our activities be hands-on. The KS3 teachers suggested establishing links to the UK curriculum within our activities.

We developed resources based on our research, teacher feedback, and discussion with the Design Museum staff. The resources consist of both teacher packs and museum visit material for KS2 and KS3. The teacher packs for KS2 and KS3 teachers include lesson plans, worksheets associated with the lesson plans, and supplementary materials necessary for the context of the lesson or activities. We developed six lesson plans, each with a separate version for KS2 and KS3. We modelled our lessons on our initial lesson, Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair. After meeting with the Design Museum staff, we created the lesson plan to start with a story that would provide context for the lesson and include an object that would link directly to the Design Museum’s permanent exhibition, “Designer, Maker, User.” With the continuous feedback we obtained from the Design Museum staff, we identified the Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair activity as a strong example of the Design Museum’s ideal set of resources, noting the lesson plan’s link to the theme of the exhibition.

Using feedback from our liaison, David Houston, we created our six lesson plans while simultaneously refining Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair. The names and descriptions of each lesson plan are as follows: The Valiant Vespa, Brains and Braun: Less but Better, Krazy Kettles and Trendy Teapots, From the Streets to the Schools, Simply Sugru, and Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair. The Valiant Vespa teaches students about design and transportation and has the student construct a balloon vehicle (Appendix G1, H1). Brains and Braun: Less but Better teaches students about industrial design and user interaction (Appendix G2, H2). Krazy Kettles and Trendy Teapots teaches students about user profiles, kettles, and teapots (Appendix G3, H3). From the Streets to the Schools teaches students about road sign standardisation and as part of this lesson students create a sign for their schools (Appendix G4, H4). Simply Sugru teaches students about fixing and improving objects based on aesthetics and functional design (Appendix G5, H5). Finally, Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair teaches students about materials and
as part of this lesson students build a chair out of newspaper (Appendix G6, H6). There are two different versions of each of the lesson plans, one for KS2 and one for KS3.

In addition to the lesson plans, we created visiting materials, which include a pre-visit lesson plan, during-visit activity, and post-visit questions. We created our pre-visit and post-visit materials to last around 30 minutes, because the teachers indicated that they do not spend much time on the visit before or after class trips. The during-visit material, has separate versions for KS2 and KS3, relies on a booklet created by students in the pre-visit lesson, and asks two or three questions about specific objects in each section of the “Designer, Maker, User” exhibition. The post-visit material consists of several follow up questions about design and design concepts related to objects in the exhibition.
We wanted to pilot test all of our lessons, but because of time constraints, we were only able to pilot test both versions of Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair, the first lesson we developed. Before the pilot test, we ran the Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair activity twice ourselves to test timing and assess the difficulty level of the activity. After testing Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair, we conducted two pilot programmes, one at a primary school and another at a secondary school. Each of the programmes finished with a student survey and a teacher interview. The student surveys and teacher interviews provided us with information on how to improve our resources beyond what we observed using our matrix. Using our pilot programme feedback, we revised our lesson plans accordingly.

We ran the secondary school programme at the school’s science club with eight participating students, from ages eleven to fourteen, who worked in two teams of four students. We observed in our introduction that the lessons engaged students and they were willing to answer questions promptly and without losing focus. Seven of the eight students reported on their surveys that they enjoyed the activity. The teacher who ordinarily teaches the club observed our pilot session and suggested that we make several modifications to the lesson plan, but that overall, it was appropriate for the students’ ages and not missing anything major.

At the primary school, we ran four lessons to four different classes, two of which were year three classes and two of which were year four classes. We observed from all four lessons that the students required a great deal of instructor help, especially the year three students. Like the KS3 teacher, the KS2 teacher who observed the lessons approved of the lesson plan and believed it was appropriate for the age range of her students, and matched her expectations on content, length, and organisation. While we determined that the pilot tests successfully engaged students in the lesson, and that KS2 students were able to further improve their designs, we were unable to determine whether the KS3 students could improve their designs, and whether the KS2 students were able to understand and apply design concepts and techniques.

In our revision of Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair, we allocated more time to the introduction due to the results from the pilot programme; we also allocated time to all the introductions of the other lesson plans after we determined that every lesson plan followed the structure of the Wibble, Wobble, Wiggle Chair lesson plan. We also rearranged the structure of the lesson plans to include the learning outcomes at the top of the page as indicated by the KS3 teacher. The KS2 teacher also suggested that we include pictures as supplementary materials for all of our lesson plans as our previous drafts were text-heavy. As a result, we included pictures that give the teachers a completed example activity in all the lesson plans. For some of the lesson plans, we added pictures of the objects that are in the exhibition.
We observed that the lesson engaged both KS2 and KS3 students and the KS2 students were able to improve their designs given enough time in the lesson. However, since we did not investigate whether the students met the required learning outcomes we developed for each lesson plan, we cannot accurately say whether students were able to understand design concepts.

Logistical constraints limited the scope and depth of our pilot programmes. Therefore we recommend that the Design Museum conducts further pilot tests for both KS2 and KS3 lesson plans. We also recommend that the Design Museum investigate whether students can meet the required learning outcomes in our lesson plans. Additionally, the teachers at the secondary school informed us that teachers, especially experienced teachers, tend to ignore large parts of museum lesson plans if the museum they visit does not provide a corresponding presentation of some kind.

With regard to the lesson plan layout, teachers at the secondary school expressed a preference for black and white worksheets due to restrictions on photocopies and ink for printing. We recommend that the Design Museum take these preferences into consideration for the lesson plans, and develop simple designs with limited colour or special graphics. Additionally, we recommend that the museum brands all of its materials with its logo and colour scheme, as the teachers at the secondary explained that KS3 students prefer resources that are different from the brand of resources they usually have.
After interviewing both KS2 and KS3 teachers, we learned that teachers are not willing to devote much time to pre-visit and post-visit materials. We therefore concluded that our during-visit materials would need the most content compared to the pre-visit and post-visit materials. We recommend that the Design Museum create resources in accordance with this feedback for any additional educational resources it creates in the future.

The results of our pilot programmes showed that while the hands-on activities in our lesson plans appeared to engage most students for most of the time, the activities might be difficult to run with only one teacher. The KS2 teacher who participated in the programme also noted that her KS2 students regularly receive long surveys after participating in other programmes, so we recommend that for future KS2 assessments include a longer set of questions than those we provided in our KS2 surveys. Finally, we recommend that the Design Museum investigate avenues to obtain accreditation for its educational resources to make them more appealing to teachers and school administrators. We believe that using our materials and recommendations as an example, the Design Museum will be able to continue the production of lesson plans for other various age ranges and other exhibitions.