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Gilmore class prints 3D sanitizer holder

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:24 PDT, Thu April 1, 2021

A Grade 3-4 class at Gilmore elementary has been told all year to follow health and safety protocols. Now, they've used the reminder as inspiration to come up with their own hand sanitizer holder.

Teacher-librarian Andrea Hunter-Mogg explains that the seeds for the project were planted in 2018.

That’s when she met David Track, then the teacher-librarian at McMath secondary, and David Henderson, who was with the district’s career programs office. The three connected during a Pro-D day workshop, “and the collaborative connection was kismet.”

“We all held a common vision of shifting classrooms—and particularly school libraries as transformative spaces of creation—away from analogous places of information retrieval,” says Hunter-Mogg.

But like so many other things during the COVID-19 pandemic, a wrench was thrown into the teachers’ plans. Since September, Hunter-Mogg, Henderson and Track have taken on different roles than what they were accustomed to, instructing both in-person learners and students learning from home.

“These shifts haven’t been so novel for teacher-librarians and those who work in non-enrolling positions across the district,” Hunter-Mogg says.

Despite the challenges, the school’s library supports students to engage in hands-on design challenges that invite them to use their imaginations and work together. There has been an increased focus on these so-called “Maker” activities, involving hands-on creation, and a nation-wide shift away from traditional libraries to learning commons, where activities are more flexible and varied. 

At Gilmore, “Maker” activities so far this year have included baked clay modelling, pin-back button making, 3D printing, beading, Origami and video productions. After spring break, planned activities include macramé, coding, and creating rhythms and beats using found objects as instruments.

“With every project we challenge students to reflect upon the process and results in relation to our school story: ‘How can a focus on connection and core competencies help students better communicate their thinking and understanding themselves as learners?’,” Hunter-Mogg explains.

Using the school’s 3D printer, students were invited to explore how they could make their health and safety routines more efficient and consistent. Division 4, which comprises Grade 3 and 4 students, wanted to create a permanent dedicated location for their hand sanitizer bottle.

“They drew a design, created it out of card stock to make a prototype, then they shared and discussed their prototype in small groups,” says Hunter-Mogg. “Next they decided on a design in their group, based on this criteria: durability, appearance, user friendly, uses the least amount of material (to be earth friendly).”

After finalizing five designs, the class voted on their favourite, which was given to the library team to help print it on the 3D printer. It’s currently in use in the classroom, and in about a month students will review how it’s working and may make additional changes.

“From my experience, students are always engaged by these types of learning experiences. Fostering curiosity and wonder within a flexible learning environment designed for collaboration gives life to many spontaneous inquiry opportunities,” says Hunter-Mogg. 

“The excitement doesn’t just evolve from the opportunity to use new and exciting technologies, but also from the sense of pride when students see their creations emerge—from a set of numbers arranged on a computer, to the anticipation of watching layer upon layer of thin plastic take shape (or, equally satisfying, the failed testing iterations that gloop and droop allowing the opportunity to use critical thinking skills to refine a project). Students begin to see themselves as more than consumers—they are productive; they are creative.”

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