During the distant education on pandemic days, our students have been usually passive in front of the screen. Ensuring their “active participation” in the lesson has been the main goal of our AKUZE (Active Participation Distance Education) project. Our project has aimed at achieving one of the outcomes of Social Studies, namely, ‘Developing ideas for designing unique products based on the needs of the environment.’ In this sense, our students have been encouraged to find creative solutions to their daily life problems, and they have been asked to shoot a commercial for marketing their designs as an entrepreneur. The project has been planned gradually so that the students could take an active role in the project. The first phase has been about preparation, the second phase has been about implementation and presentation, the last phase has been about developing a project song and a game for the project by collaborating with other partner schools. AKUZE project has been prepared and implemented for primary school students and has included a structure that can be easily integrated into the secondary school technology design course. With this project, a project-based and an interdisciplinary approach have been integrated through collaborative studies.
The implementation of the phases are as in the following:
During the preparation phase, students were first informed about the project, then the concept of engineering and the engineering design cycle were taught. Afterwards, they were asked to design a product that would take advantage of the engineering design cycle to solve their own problems. A guideline was prepared in order to enable the students understand the steps easily while following the phases of their own designs. A form compatible with the instruction was prepared and they were asked to fill the form. Through distance training, a brief seminar about advertisement was given to the students by an expert in relation to the commercial that they would shoot. A simple questionnaire was applied to the students so that they could collaborate with their friends in the partner schools, and they were divided into groups in the most appropriate way to their interests (Gardner Multiple Intelligences Theory).
In the second stage, our students presented their own designs to their friends in their institutions via distance education tools. As a result of the peer evaluations after the presentation, they developed their designs by changing the weak points of their designs if they would have. Afterwards, they shot commercials about their designs. They met other school students who were cooperated as a result of the survey and presented their designs to their friends for the second time.
We are currently in the third and final stage. 8 mixed school teams created according to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and their lead teachers are still working collaboratively to write a project song and design a board game related to the project. 4 teams have been carrying out sequential tasks to create the project song, while the other 4 teams have been trying to complete sequential tasks for the project board game. While doing this, they actively participate in decision-making processes with their teachers.
This project has facilitated our students to understand the engineering design cycle, the relationship between science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM field) in daily life, has improved their communication skills and has enabled them to take their first steps into scientific entrepreneurship.
In the evaluation of the project, evaluation methods such as process evaluation, peer and self-evaluation have been used. Students have presented their designs and ideas to their friends and have made changes in their designs as a result of the criticism and feedback they received. They have showed their creativity at the highest level both in the product design stage and in the stages of making commercial films.