As part of the Glittering Minds program for schools, a year 4 inquiry unit on - “Natural and Processed Materials”, turned into a Design Thinking project on “How might we design suitable school uniform?”.
In Design Thinking, we spend most of our time understanding the problem. As Albert Einstein said – “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”
So the students explored:
✅The properties of different material
✅How different materials are sources
✅The environmental cost of generating different material
✅The work conditions at factories that produce fabrics
✅What students think about school uniforms in terms of needs,
pain points and desires
✅What parents think about school uniforms in terms of needs, pain
points and desires
✅What teachers think about school uniforms in terms of needs,
pain points and desires
An essential part of the Design Thinking process is looking at the big picture and seeing how our decisions and actions impact society and our environment.
As part of this project, the students were required to choose materials to prototype uniforms.
At first, the students were thinking about using cotton and polar fleece, as they liked the look and feel of these materials.
However, as these children progressed with their research, they discovered that 20,000 litter of water are required to manufacture one cotton t-shirt and a pair of jeans, and 151 grams of pesticides are required to manufacture only one t-shirt!
They also found out that children are forced to work in cotton farms in some countries.
They learned that the synthetic microfibers, which make up the “nice on the skin” polar fleece, pollute the marine ecosystem.
All the students were shocked by their new gained knowledge. Their perspective on how to choose materials have changed. They suddenly looked at the bigger picture. They suddenly realised their decisions directly impact the world around them. Impact other people and our environment.
Armed with this knowledge, these children wanted to make sure they made the right decisions. Therefore, they started to explore materials that are sourced ethically and sustainably.
The favourite polar fleece was replaced with organic wool, and the cotton was replaced with bamboo.
When provided with the right learning environment, children choose to make better decisions for people they will never meet. They make choices that are better for the environment. They learn to be responsible global citizens.
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