| "Messing About" |
In 1974, David Hawkins in his book about science and education entitled The Informed Vision wrote an essay on "Messing About In Science". This phrase and others like it have been used to describe the early phases of inquiry. It is a time of becoming familiar with the feeling of materials, with haptic experiences where hands-on experiences of forces and dimensions and mechanisms are the building blocks for making design choices. Constructivist learning emphasizes this phase as one where learners reactivate memories of objects of study, or create new impressions if the object is novel. In both cases, learners make new connections as they learn about the features and constraints of the objects they explore.
MOVIE 1 has Janet Kolodner telling how a "messing about" phase is included in the Learning By Design™ curriculum soon after the design brief has been presented. With its Model Parachute challenge, students explore materials and get their chutes to work before talking about key design variables. With its Machines That Help unit, students investigate different simple machines before combining them into a more complex device to meet the challenge. With the Stuff That Works materials, students take the results of a Scaverger Hunt (collection of shopping bags) and then explore how they are made, different kinds of bags, and where they are weak when they test them to failure.