The Great Design Challenge

Marburn’s Specials Classes are all about investigation and problem-solving!  Each class in Performing and Visual Arts, Technology, and PE offers students the opportunity to investigate new avenues of creativity, expression, and collaboration and to resolve the inevitable conflicts during collaboration with their classmates. In high school this semester, students in the Visual Art and Technology classes used the design process to investigate possible solutions to a real world design challenge.

In The Great Design Challenge, art students were asked to take an idea and turn it into a meaningful image or sculpture to commemorate the move to our new building while inspiring future students, teachers, and families.  First, they investigated the needs of the school community through interviews with students and faculty. In small groups, they created multiple designs before settling on one they thought might meet the identified goals of the target audience and began to solve problems of materials, scale, and integration with the architecture of the building.  Each team then worked with a student from the Project Lead the Way class to transform their ideas into a 3D digital model. The course culminated in a final design competition in which each team presented their process, project plan, physical model, and digital model to a jury consisting of a school administrator, artist, and development specialist.

Meanwhile, technology students explored the world of computer animation, creating digital video games complete with landscape features, people, and animals.  Animation and game design provided a perfect venue for practicing problem-solving skills as students manipulated pixels into a believable and entertaining new world.

Investigation and problem-solving are central to all of the Specials courses.  Students learn this difficult process best when intrinsic motivation is easiest to access and when the payoff is tangible and immediate. The design met the criteria or it didn’t. The animation worked the way they envisioned it or it didn’t. As students find an area of strength, they naturally reach for new challenges and find the will to persevere through problems that might stop them cold in a less engaging setting.

Leslie Buford
Language Specialist and Head of Specials