Home' Teacher : May 2011 Contents 40 TEACHER MAY 2011
Participating architects and teachers
are supplied with an Eco-Cubby education
resource for guidance when considering
concepts of sustainability, as well as exer-
cises for how a practical and buildable Eco -
Cubby design could consider function, shel-
ter, materials, enclosure and resource use.
The exact way in which the phases are
worked through is up to the teachers and
the architect to consider. Typically the
program is run over a number of sessions
across three school terms, and therefore
involves multiple school visits for the archi-
tect. A variety of learning activities such as
brainstorming, discussion, drawing, model-
making and teamwork are employed as part
of the program. Schools and communities
can go on to actually build their Eco-Cubby
designs and see them functioning as active
play, teaching and creative art and design
constructions. Although this potential Eco -
Cubby outcome is an exciting aspect of the
project, it is the thought process, design and
modelling that remains the ongoing focus.
Children learn best when they have the
opportunity to see and do rather than just
listening and Eco-Cubby offers experimen-
tal cu rriculum delivery whereby students
have the opportunity to learn outside the
classroom and gain practical hands-on
experience in a variety of ways.
In this project we have had whole classes
engaging in activities such as constructing
of rammed-earth columns, mud brick mak-
ing, 1:1 scale mock-ups of designs in the
playground as well as lively wood technol-
While the project involves collaboration
between architects -- we see the architects as
expert resources -- and teachers -- the teacher
helps with the interpretation of the language
and the educational processes -- the focus
is on the children and their interactive
learning. Architects are in the classroom
to engage with the children and offer high-
level learning opportunities about sophis-
ticated concepts. This project is seen as a
starting point for schools and their commu-
nities to develop sustainability curriculum
in an accessible and practical way.
What do participants say?
Feedback from teachers, architects and students about how the project has influ-
enced learning has been over whelmingly positive.
Napoleons Primary School near Ballarat participated in the program in 2010.
According to principal Trevor Edwards, 'At every stage we found pupils eager to be
involved in discussing, planning and building the Eco-Cubby models. Pupils gained
valuable experience from the classes resulting in them having increased knowledge
of aspects of building design, efficient use of energy resources as well as increased
knowledge of building models and construction.'
Charlotte Lindsay, a building designer who worked with Victoria's Mansfield
Primary School in 2009, was also impressed with the students' learning. 'There is so
much to talk about and I wonder if the kids can make any sense of all that is being
explained to them. At the end of the class I ask: "Which way should you orientate
you r house?" and they all answer with a very loud "NORTH!" Fantastic! How good
is that? I tell them that we would be lucky to find a group of adults in the main street
of Mansfield who would know what to say!' she says.
This learning can be observed not just in the students' answers, but in the very
processes they use to design their cubbies. As part of an Eco-Cubby session at the
University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre in 2009, focusing on visual literacy,
children were led through a series of design decisions to create a floor plan. Using
collected plastic milk bottles and twine to map the space they explored various
shapes. The kindergarteners' exchange included such questions and obser vations
as: 'It looks like a whale!,' 'How does the sun get inside?,' 'The sun goes in the
window,' and 'How will we get in? We need a door.'
The students' enthusiasm for the program is also clearly expressed in their feed-
back. According to one student at Geelong East Primary School, a 2010 participant,
'You can make an awesome Eco-Cubby but at the same time you are learning about
a lot of things in the environment like thermal mass and double glazed windows.
Also we had great instructors and we have had a very good time. It has been one of
the best things that I have ever done. I have had so much fun and I do recommend it
for others at school because you get to practice so many things and if you are lucky
enough you will get to build it.'
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