Mystery Box challenges students across state
On 31May, students from Edenhope P-12 College participated in a ‘Mystery Box’ design challenge against a metropolitan Melbourne school, Northcote High School, using PolyCom video collaboration technology.
From their school in Edenhope, a group of eager Year 7 students linked via video conference with the students from Northcote High School, who were located at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Both groups were given a box of the same surprise materials and brief to complete a design activity. Situated 435 km from Melbourne, Edenhope were ready with their unopened Mystery Box which had been sent to their school prior to the workshop.
A presentation by The National Gallery of Victoria Educators, Ingrid Wood and Grace Di Stazio, introduced students to The Cicely & Colin Rigg Design Award, which focusses on contemporary design practice in the state of Victoria. Representing professions in ceramics, metalwork, textiles and jewellery design, the exhibition showcases vessels and the notion of containment. discussed ideas, materials and methods used by contemporary designers and the parameters of design problems at hand, before the boxes were opened.
Students were asked to unpack the Mystery Box and discuss the design brief. Items to be contained were light globes and dried lentils. Materials to make the vessel included string, netting, bamboo and large green leaves. Working in groups of 4, both schools brainstormed and constructed their containers. What ensued was fantastic flurry of activity. It was not only fun and creative, but also encouraged problem solving and innovative thinking.
After their containers were completed, each group was asked to evaluate the other group’s efforts. They then presented their containers and evaluation to the other school via PolyCom. This not only revealed the competitive nature of school against school but also a mutual understanding of the design process. It also enabled metro and regional students to share and exchange ideas. Facilitated by Grace and Ingrid, this discussion between the two schools highlighted the difficulties the groups encountered, their use of materials and the merits of different design solutions.
The Mystery Box workshop was a great success and demonstrated the capacity of PolyCom to connect regional and remote audiences with programs and workshops which would not otherwise be easily accessible. Students found it new and challenging to create and design using limited materials - as one student commented, ‘I could make something out of nothing by just being creative and using my imagination’.
94.4% of students found the activity interesting and enjoyable, while 77.8% of students maintained or increased their interest in going to university. 22.3% of students reported an increased interest in a career in the Design profession.
Several students commented that this activity opened their eyes to using technology to interact with other schools, with one student saying ‘us country kids can keep up with the city kids and have as good facilities as in the city’.