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Manaia Wilson-Moses

Tiny Hut Project

T Davies —

In April 2016, I embarked upon a Tiny Hut unit of work with my very creative Year 9 Class here at Shirley Boys High School..

The Tiny Hut Competition was run by the Community of New Brighton and Christchurch City Council in an attempt to bring life and creativity to the area and the rules were simple. The hut had to fit on a 2m square base, be no more than 3.5m high and be able to be constructed for less than $5000. No services and a variety of uses were sought.

Normally, at this time of year, I get students to design a Bach so this was similar. With a UC Masters Student, Dan Wilson, I was able to teach measurement through the project. We used measures, volumes, surface areas of many complex and compound shapes to illustrate the possibilities when designing a building. Similarly it was possible to use the volumes and surface areas of the materials to gain accurate costings.

As there were no power or services and most of the students wanted some power to charge devices and phones, solar power was needed. New Brighton is particularly sunny and it was normal weather conditions, so we were able to calculate the size of PV panels and the power that could be generated, enough to charge phones and devices.

I was particularly interested in the cultural aspects of the designs. Several opportunities arose and were used by the students.

  • Firstly there is a significant War Memorial by the Library. This provided the inspiration for some students to build a small memorial showing films and photos from the war and gave residents the opportunity to bring and scan relevant historic photos from The Wars and of old New Brighton.
  • New Brighton, Rawhiti, has significant cultural significance to Ngai Tahu and is particularly relevant to the location of our new school on the Ōrua Paeroa – North New Brighton QE2 Site. Students were encouraged to investigate the significance of the site and bring qualities and cultural aspects into their designs.
  • Another by a student with Chinese origins was based on old gold ingot designs and was designed to contain telescopes, one for the Pier repairs, and one for The Southern Alps and a third for the skies. Other designs include a Tardis, A sand castle and a mini tiered seating theatre.

Most of the students used “Sketch-Up” for their designs, but needed to produce written materials to support their designs. The submissions had to be static displays, so screen shots of the animations were essential. Ultimately each design contained elements of Te Reo and Bi-Culturism, History, Technology, ICT, English, Mathematics, and Art/Design. The maths skills utilised were up to National Curriculum Level 6 although the students thought the work was at a much lower level. They thought they had used Art and Graphic skills but did not recognise the wider elements drawn into the project.

Participation and enthusiasm was electric in the class. Participation in and out of the class was palpable. The external set time scales and the potential for a prize were huge incentives. The project was real even down to the students needing to discuss and plan the location of their Tiny Hut. The small scale made the projects manageable and imaginable. With a 2m square base marked on the classroom floor the students could imagine just how big and small the space was. This scale of space was even more important when it came to considering the accessibility of people and wheelchairs. A beautiful touch on The Rawhiti Mini Mara was the tahuhu or taahu that was pivoted at the apex to allow wheel chair entry. Such was the attention to detail.

Student reaction to the project included, “you could let your imagination run wild”, “amazing, interesting and fun”, “tough but of great benefit”, “brilliant that it could be real”.

Being a real-life project, the deadline was imposed by the Competition organisers, so there was no flexibility and the students found this “stressful”, “made them work harder” and “wanting to do more”. One insightful comment from a student was “I liked it because it was helping my community” recognising the burden and decline that Brighton has suffered in recent years. The best summary of the student’s attitude was that it was “fun but challenging.”

The school, especially my colleagues, the Headmaster, John Laurenson and BoT member, Neil Falconer gave me their full support with this innovative and creative approach to teaching Mathematics. Our department has thrown itself into Flexible Learning Environments (FLE) and Innovative Learning and teaching, and we are preparing ourselves for our new school in 2019.

In the end five designs were chosen as the flagship designs of the class. The Rawhiti Mini Marae was an outstanding work by Manaia Wilson-Moses. Another work the Mahina Wa Tardis based on Doctor Who was also an outstanding design. The “Chinese Ingot” design housing the Telescope Observatory was spectacular.

Up against Architects and Engineers and professional designers our designs help up well. At the announcement of the Finals we were pleased and amazed to find that The Rawhiti Mini Marae by Manaia Wilson-Moses came second overall and won the schools competition. There was a substantial cash prize and the Marae is to be built by Naylor Love, builders of the Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral and the rebuilders of the Isaac Theatre Royal amongst many projects in Christchurch.

We have students currently on Maori carving courses and their work will adorn the elevations. We also hope that there will be some input from Avonside Girls High School who will be sharing the Ōrua Paeroa – North New Brighton QE2 Site with us.

We are currently working on Cross curricular initiatives and Phenomenon Based Learning as we embark upon ambitious projects on the Rio Olympics.

Tom Davies

Head of Mathematics and Statistics