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Year 6 update on design learning

Dear families,

The Year 6 classes have been busy in the Hixon Family Design Lab and Prodigy Fabrication Lab building automatons during their fabrication unit. An automaton is a mechanical toy made of wood that uses cams, driveshafts, cranks and pushrods to move features on the top of the toy. Each boy started with a personal story they wanted to tell with their moving automaton. 

They started by building cardboard prototypes. Through the building process they learned much about what worked and what didn’t. After reflecting on their learning, they were ready to build their working models. They started the New Year with tool safety lessons. Not only were the boys proud of their safety record (not a single finger lost), but they were also very proud of their finished products.

The prototype and the finished model


The unit didn’t finish there. As all of our boys know, the design cycle doesn’t end with Criterion C: creating the solution. There always needs to be a little Criterion D: evaluation. The boys then tested their automations against the success criteria that they established at the beginning of the unit around form and function.

After the testing process was complete they created a short iMovie to tell an audience how their automaton faired in its testing, how successful it was, compared against their success criteria and how they might improve it if they had more time. 

Below are four of the finished movies the boys wanted to share.

Skiing Moguls for the First Time

Volleyball Spike and Block

The Roller Coaster

The Winning Shot


Nigel White
Design teacher