Kimberly Baars was my guest as part of the N4L Presents webinar series – a collection of conversations with educators from around the country that tied in with October’s Connected Educator Month. Longer sessions like these are such a great opportunity to hear what really informs teacher practice, and to take a closer look at the nuts, bolts and challenges that are a part of Design Tech and student centered inquiry.
Kimberly is the Digital Technology and Design teacher at Taupaki School in Auckland. She works with e-textiles, coding, robotics and 3D printing to create a space where students can solve problems they find in the world around them.
During the webinar Kimberly does a great job of unpacking how her programme starts with each student writing 50 ideas they want to explore. She’s honest about what it’s like to try new things and fail tragically in a cloud of circuit smoke, and offers some great advice for those who want to start out on their own classroom adventures in design.
The support for design and technology at Taupaki School is exceptional and the cameo appearance of Taupaki’s principal Stephen Lethbridge talking about his 3D printed quad-copter is just one example of how Taupaki is a bit different (after the webinar, Kimberly and I walked next door to the design tech lab where Stephen was leading a community Maker-Space session that included students, parents, and the Chairperson of the school Board).
While Taupaki may be unique, the principles of design and inquiring into your practice are universal. Kimberly prompts us to rethink how self-guided and self-motivated our students might be, and offers some ideas that anyone can put into practice one step at a time to bring about small changes to our practice and our schools.