585: (35/365) Many Hands Make Light Work

As a teacher and pastoral care “tutor”, I am always looking for ways to get kids working together. At the beginning of the year the tutor group room is a mixed-year level (6-12) mixture of strangers and established friends so “GTK” exercises (Getting To Know you) are great icebreakers if you can get them actually talking and working together:

A few years back I struck on an idea to get kids collaboratively folding an origami mega-structure. The model is fairly simple – I taught the newbies (in this case the year 6 and 7 students) a simple modular unit. They then had to go teach another kid in the group, who in turn taught another. The central metaphor is “the WHOLE is greater than the sum of the parts”, “many hands make light work”, “we are as strong as the weakest link” … and so on.

The result, so long as the instructions are fairly simple (these are BOYS, instructions like “fold it in half” can be a challenge to some) and well understood, is a pile of modules that are then plugged together over the next week to make something beautiful. 

This year I chose a spiked dodecahedron formed by 30 units designed by Tomoko Fuse, demonstrated nicely in the following video. I like this because it is SIMPLE, the locking mechanism is strong and for the most part simple. The last 2 units are nearly IMPOSSIBLE however as you need to be inside the model to effect it and, well, by then, accessing the inside is nearly impossible.

We discovered, to our delight, last years model is safely ensconced in a cupboard in our tutor room – this one will join it. I like this approach, it keys into boy’s natural engineering curiousity and outsourcing the actual folding to them means I do not have to do it 😛

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