Brunel 200 Legacy Baise Primary School Paper, Scissors, Stone project.
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Education > Case Study: Blaise Primary School

Heading – Case Study: Blaise Primary School

Bridge Building Project

100 participants – June 2006

One of Brunel 200’s over-arching ambitions for its education programme was to enable children to learn through a hands-on exploration of Brunel. This created a new approach for a set of projects which aimed to engage children who were less likely to learn through a traditional academic approach.

Blaise Primary School Bridge Building Project book.

Paper, Scissors, Stone, a collective of artists specialising in the creation of 3-D carnival structures, developed an innovative programme for Year 3 (ages 7 and 8) children based on bridge building. This included hands-on bridge design activities and workshops in which the children experimented with construction skills to create their own huge ‘animated’ bridge installation. Inspired by the Clifton Suspension Bridge the children let their imaginations fly with ideas about bridges connecting people and places. Once their fantasy bridge had been constructed they focused on different elements to tell stories about bridges.

A colourful and inspirational book featuring the children’s artwork was made by the artists as part of the documentation process. Sample pages illustrate this page.

Blaise Primary School Bridge Building Project book.

Linda Trude, the link teacher at Blaise Primary, commented:

“The creativity of the children was amazing and the making of their futuristic bridge was a spectacular highlight during our Brunel activities. The staff and pupils really enjoyed working with Paper, Scissors, Stone and all of the Brunel 200 opportunities we were able to access.

The school wanted an end product with the final design developed by the children. The partners were well organised and they didn’t impose their own ideas but used their expertise to devise appropriate activities to suit the children and planned the work each night based on previous day’s work. They got to know the children quickly and responded on the spot to the children’s ideas. Paper, Scissors, Stone are producing book of photographs for Brunel200 and the school. (see download above)

The partnership appeared to work successfully through the dedication and responsiveness of the partners and through the flexibility and openness of the school. The finished product demonstrated the process and the understanding of structures that the children had developed.

The pupils learnt through discussion, research and experimentation how to make bridges sturdy. Through shorter focussed tasks, they investigated the design and structural considerations of bridge building.

The children developed their thinking through the process of building the work from their own ideas, thoughts and imagination. The opportunity to work in small groups for a sustained period of time allowed a depth and focus to the work. Although there were group activities, there was also time for quiet thought, time to plan on their own, and time to work on their own elements. Designs of the bridges that they drew really showed an understanding of structure and an attention to structural elements.

Blaise Primary School Bridge Building Project book.

The teachers were surprised by the level of imagination that was developed: the children were reluctant initially to risk an idea but at end they were more willing to share own ideas and not be afraid about whether it was the right or wrong answer.

They developed an understanding that every grand design started from small ideas and didn’t see it as work but fun. When they were working, they were completely engaged and worked quietly with involvement. One boy, who finds it difficult to engage, focussed on making a volcano which built on the work that had been happening in class the previous week. He was fully engaged and enjoyed the whole process.

One boy went on holiday to New York and was very pleased when he came back because “wherever you go people know Bristol because of Brunel”

It made the school remember the value of Design & Technology [as a subject area] and has encouraged them to do more focussed, sustained practical work like this. They would like to work with Paper Scissors Stone again, and other visitors, in order to bring in particular expertise and different perspectives. The work was discussed with other staff during the residency and several teachers took ideas from the smaller focussed tasks and used them in their own classroom.

Working on Brunel 200 demonstrated the power of focussing history around a particular character which made the children interested on a personal level; this linked with the school’s work on BLP and learning competencies such as perseverance and the fact that Brunel wasn’t afraid to take a risk and get things wrong.

They found the fact that Brunel was a local character and that his work can still be visited a good opportunity to show the relevance of the learning and a good opportunity to get the parents involved; they took a letter home before the holidays with the suggestion that the parents take their children to see the Suspension Bridge.

In future, more time for teachers’ to develop their own ideas would be useful. Another idea is a preview afternoon at 4.30, similar to those run by At Bristol, to find out about future Bristol educational events. Courses are good but there are always limited places and a whole day is sometimes difficult to take out of the classroom.”

Blaise Primary School Bridge Building Project book.