Powerful Partnership for Learning

Written by Teresa Belisle
Written by Teresa Belisle

IS Prague

Partnering with local organisations allows ISP to expand its impact on learning and learners. ISP is partnering with Maker Institute Prague to support our efforts in innovation, design, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In addition to coming in as expert speakers to targeted classes, we are cosponsoring three day-long Saturday workshops.

The first workshop of this series, Designing With Nature, took place last Saturday, 4 February, in our Learning Innovation Hub. 22 curious Elementary and Middle School students, along with nine parents and two faculty members, joined five architects, researchers, and computer scientists in the ISP Idea Lab. Together they looked to nature as a source of learning and inspiration while developing skills and competencies in 3D printing.

The Maker Institute was established based on the interest of students and employees of the Dejvice Campus in cutting-edge fabrication technologies. A nonprofit organization, functioning independently but working closely with the universities and other stakeholders, the Institute offers an inspiring, vibrant, and innovative environment – a true hot spot for makers, tinkerers, and innovators of different backgrounds and skills.

The session launched with a presentation on biomimicry ( how we can learn from nature) which immediately sparked everyone’s interest. Biomimicry shows how close observation of the natural world reveals designs and patterns that can be replicated by researchers and architects into innovative structures and systems that are often more sustainable and durable. Following this intriguing provocation from Lelya, the director of Maker Institute and one of the other architects, participants started their investigation with close observation of many natural samples using powerful microscopes from Charles University. From those observations, they then sketched their discoveries, emphasizing the structure and design of what they saw.

The second phase of the workshop involved teams building a model of a bridge using sticks and 3D-printed connectors. These connectors were being produced during the workshop on the 3D printers (14 from the Maker Institute and four from our Idea Lab.)

Creative juices were running high as teams shared and negotiated ideas, prototyped possibilities, and gained competence in physics. Most groups realised that the biggest challenge was working together as a team and honoring the ideas of everyone in the group.

The third part of the workshop focused on learning more about the history of 3D designing and how it is currently being used by individuals, organisations, companies, architects, and researchers.

After sharing examples of 3D designs, participants tackled a simple challenge, upskilling their capacity to design using TinkerCad or Rhino software and then “slicing” that design for printing on a 3D.

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