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Celebration of Learning

Prototype Project: The Messy, Uncomfortable, Amazing Project

December 14, 2019

By Jaclyn Demmers, CA Teacher: This September, our Grade 7 students embarked on a journey to explore science in a whole new way. In collaboration with TELUS Spark the students have been brainstorming, ideating, creating and designing an exhibit to teach a scientific topic of their choice. When they began this journey, the students were shown the above image. It accurately defines the process that students, and teachers, go through with the Prototype Project.

The beginning was messy and uncomfortable. As teachers it can be difficult to guide students through brainstorming and ideating processes when the end is being decided by the students. It is difficult to let go of the control to the students. In the words of the students it can “be uncomfortable and weird since you are going to have to make this with no instructions” or it can feel like “we were all over the place and had no idea what we were doing”. Then, something happens. An idea forms and the students think “we were really excited about our new idea and we were hoping that TELUS Spark would like it too.” With their renewed energy, students shared their ideas with TELUS Spark in a proposal letter and impatiently awaited feedback.

Three times throughout the process, students met with TELUS Spark staff to receive feedback and suggestions for their projects. Each time they met, the students’ paths became clearer and their confidence and ability to receive and apply feedback grew. With defined ideas they set to work building and testing their exhibits. With check-in visits from volunteer experts the students refined and redesigned their prototypes. The final time that students met with TELUS Spark, they worked with staff to receive facilitation training. This was their first chance to have people test out their exhibits prior to the Celebration of Learning. After watching the TELUS Spark staff enthusiastically engage with their exhibits the students were elated and could not wait for the big night.

The students reflected that “the best is when you go to TELUS Spark and you present your project to everyone.” The students proudly stood next to their exhibits and shared their new-found expertise with everyone that visited. They confidently explained their topics and answered questions to friends and strangers alike. Beyond the science students learned much, much more.

“You get to have fun with your friends and make new friends because you get to meet new people you may not have worked with.”

“We really worked on the project and made friendships throughout the project.”

“My advice would be: be open to other’s ideas.”

“You should all work as a team, and let everyone say their ideas and try them out.”