My colleague and I were first introduced to Makedo at CONSTAWA 2017 as part of a trade display. We saw these little blue screws and were immediately drawn to the free samples. Upon further investigated we realised the incredible potential and STEM application of the resource across all year levels in our school. We were very keen to take the product back to our school’s science committee and see if there was enough money in our budget to buy a few of the Makedo sets. Thankfully there was!
Once the Makedo kits arrived we couldn’t wait to start playing with them in our classrooms. The students were so excited to begin using the tools and creating wonderful cardboard constructions. As we were both teaching in early childhood classrooms it took a little bit of patience and experimenting to work out the best ways to connect different sized and shaped cardboard pieces and boxes. However, not once did a child give up or mention that it was difficult, they were having too much fun and their creative minds were buzzing. It did take some convincing to assure the students that they no longer need the sticky tape to keep their constructions together.
The first Makedo lesson we did was just experimenting with the tools, there was no end task criteria. We had butterflies, robots, transport vehicles and all sorts of wonderful creations. We then began introducing the design process by drawing our creations after they were made and later drawing our designs before we made them. Eventually we began linking the construction to our learning outcomes and providing specific criteria to the students. We made bridges for the Three Billy Goats Gruff that had to span the width of the river and hold the weight of our three toy goats. Towards the end of the year we invited our year five buddy class down to pre-primary to help us design and build Gingerbread houses using large packing boxes and the Makedo construction tools. The results were incredible and the students had so much fun exploring and playing with them. When the houses began falling apart the kids had just as much fun deconstructing their designs and were looking forward to building new things.
With some practical experience under our belts we decided to take the Makedo sets to the rest of the school staff. Is there a better way to introduce a construction system than with a hands on work shop? During our Professional Learning session, staff were set a challenge to work in groups, use the Makedo sets and the recycled cardboard provided to construct a famous wonder of the world such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Arc De Triomphe, Great Wall of China or the Egyptian Pyramids, just to name a few. Competition was high! Some staff were on the floor while others had rulers out for precise measurements. The key principles of STEM learning: team work, problem solving, and communication were evident everywhere. The session was a big success and after the hands on experience the staff were keen to take the Makedo back to their own classrooms.
We then implement a very similar session at CONSTAWA 2018 with the backing of Paul Smargiassi, the Managing Director of CD-SOFT and the person who initially introduced us to the Makedo resources. The feedback was outstanding. People really enjoyed the hands on work shop and could see the practical implementation in their classrooms. We have since been approached to again present at the 2018 STEM Learning Conference showing a need to show case simple hands on resource materials that can be implemented in a cross curricular STEM approach.
The Makedo construction system is a winner in our books. It is a fun, hands on and uses sustainable materials. You are only limited by your imagination!
Katie Menzies and Natalie Birrell
Huntingdale Primary School