The grating sounds of saws at work and of nails being drilled into hard bamboo filled the air as children, totally immersed in their project, carried 30 foot poles of bamboo to makeshift stands made from chairs, measured them carefully into different lengths and sawed, drilled and hammered away.
It had been an exciting few weeks. The Grade 4 children at Bali Island School had been looking at how the design of buildings and structures was dependent on environmental factors, available materials and human ingenuity. As part of the inquiry, the children had met and interviewed two well-known architects in Bali, visited an indigenous Balinese compound, as well as a marvelous centre for yoga, built completely from bamboo. The children were curious to find out why certain materials were used for building in modern and traditional Balinese structures. So they devised many scientific experiments to test a variety of building materials for strength, insulation and waterproofing qualities. This helped the students to understand their properties better. They were astonished to learn that bamboo was as strong as iron of the same mass!
The next question was how could they apply their newfound knowledge to an authentic, real life situation? The result: A desperately needed Lost and Found Property Centre for the Primary School.
The children first decided to brainstorm ideas of what had to be considered before starting the project. They looked closely at the lost property in the school to see what they had to plan for. Many questions arose that ranged from which building materials would be the most suitable to how to decide the right measurements. They wondered how different kinds of lost property would be best stored. What if it was a wet swimming costume and towel? Should they have pegs or a bar with hangers for clothes? Did they need drawers in which to lock valuable things or should they stick to shelves? They decided to measure bottles, bags and lost kits to understand the shelf size needed. They considered the average heights and arm lengths of the children and teachers to decide on how tall the centre should be and how deep.
What else did the children gain from this experience? By being challenged and actively engaged in tasks that were authentic, relevant to them and significant to the entire community, this project helped to promote self-management, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to different roles and collaborate respectfully over different ideas and assume responsibility. In short, many of the skills necessary to help our students thrive and succeed as responsible citizens in a changing world.
Grade 4, Classroom Teacher
Bali Island School
(Formally Bali International School)