Learning by Doing

Library Seat. Myself and Yancy chose to address the lack of seating and areas for activity outside and the suggestion for an outdoor library. We decided to work together to creat a bench that would serve as somewhere to sit and read, as well as somewhere to store books. We came up with many iterations before eventually building.

Working as a pair

By working as a pair we were able to learn from and help each other. Previously we have both done little working with wood and machinery, so working together gave us opportunities to ask each other questions on how best to use a particular tool or how to improve the design. We have had many a discussion on which variation would not only be best for the design aesthetic, but which would be simplest to build or provide the lightest and safest structure. With the two of us working together we asked more questions and were not only able to push the design, but also ourselves and our own thinking. 

We made sure that we allowed each other to use all the tools and develop every skill as the other. 

In saying that, teamwork hasn't allowed us to explore a separate design, and there may be a lack in our independent development.

1:1 scale

We found that using models at 1:1 scale, as well as drawings on paper, helped provided solutions for problems that arose. We used scrap bits of wood to create a 3D view of possibilities; allowing us to effectively communicate our ideas to each other and highlighting other possibilities that pen and paper couldn't have done alone. 

Actual size models also allowed us to see what materials were of good enough quality for the final product, and if they weren't quite perfect we sought ways to improve them so that they were usable. The pallets took a lot of work to match up and manipulate to suit our design - the spacing in between the slats of the varying pallets partly informed the design.

Using tools

The tools workshop with Marcus gave us an understanding of how the tools worked and how to use them safely. With this knowledge we could start safely preparing and assembling materials for our project. We found there were several methods that could be taken to achieve the same result - when dismantling the pallets, a hammer could be used to knock off the blocks that weren't wanted or a chisel could be used to break the blocks off. By directing the hammer at the block from a direction that levers the block off (along the slates that the block is attached to - not perpendicular to them), and by not putting so much leverage on the slats we were trying to save, the slats weren't damaged as much in the process, and the pallets came apart easier/with less effort. 

Things that seem obvious, like holding the hammer in the right place and aiming the chisel at the side of the wood that would split, are lessons that we learnt through the whole process.

Learning from mistakes

(and eventually finding or being told of the best method)

Even after gaining knowledge from the tools workshop, applying our new skills to a particular situation wasn't as obvious as we'd thought and hoped. We were autonomously learning; the same type of learning that we are encouraging with our design work for the school. After struggling a little or testing different methods, if we still hadn't found a suitable method, assistance from Marcus, Sally or another member of the group would put us back on track.

The overall experience so far has been really enjoyable, therapeutic and informing - even though I've been covered in a layer of sweat 24/7.

Carys Marshall