On February 15, Project Exploration staff and facilitators were given the opportunity to work with some wonderful educators at the James Dyson Foundation at the Dyson Chicago headquarters. Education Specialists, Bailee Lauer and Jenna Blanton welcomed us and one other local elementary school teacher to teach how to implement their newly revamped “Design.Build.Test.” program. This program encourages late elementary school and middle school students to get engaged with their surroundings and create solutions for problems they see every day.
As part of our training, we got to experience some of the lessons the students would be participating in. The best part was getting to take specialized vacuum attachments apart to see how they worked. It was really cool to get to see the changes that were made between the Carbon Fiber Turbine head and the new Tangle-Free Turbine. The engineers found that on the first attachment hair and string would get stuck around the bar and then the vacuum would stop working. So they spent four years, rebuilding and testing a new head that would solve that problem and they came up with the Tangle-Free Turbine, which uses bristles moving in opposite directions to sweep the hair into the tube not around a bar. I think the one of the biggest outcomes of this program that would benefit our students is that in the design and innovation process nobody gets it right the first time. It takes years and lots of patience to produce a quality product.
We also got to practice our prototyping skills, which was fun because our challenge was to create a cylinder and a box out of cardboard but we were able to customize them however we wanted. Nigel created a “big box”, I made a box that opened at the top but was held down by a latch made of tape, and Kiara made a giant cylinder. They gave us instructions but then we were able to customize the products however we wanted.
In the program, our students will be able to pick a problem they would like to solve and create a prototype of a product that would solve that problem. Dyson encourages the students to come up with the most creative solutions they can. I think our students will really enjoy this program and having the opportunity to design a new product to help their communities!
Written By: Meghan Bagley