It seems that every time we check the news we are reminded that hate and racism are still very much a part of the societies we live in. Confronted by shocking acts of violence and people behaving badly and selfishly, it’s hard not to despair for the future of our world and its people. What has happened to compassion, love, empathy, acceptance, and caring about each other as fellow human beings?
Contrary to the evidence found all over the media, I have just been reminded that these essential human qualities are alive and well. They can be found in young people all over the world and I want to share my experience with you as a message of hope.
Every month at Makers Empire, we run a global design competition for primary school students. One of my jobs before I go to bed each night, is to check the entries received for the competition during the day. In July, our Best Friends Forever competition asked students to think about their best friend and what makes their friendship special, and to design something especially for this friend.
Our competition attracted 8,467 entries by students wanting to design something special for their friend. Not only that, many students left comments wanting to tell me what makes their friend so great. My heart felt full as I read the messages of love, appreciation, and compassion. Students told me that friends come in all shapes, sizes, and colours; that they love their friends because they are different or similar to themselves; and that their friends are special because they are caring, funny, thoughtful, brave, supportive, and unique individuals.
These are the messages and images I want to see when I turn on my laptop and television!
Our young people have love in their hearts. Let’s help them share their messages of hope with the world. Here are ten design challenges using Makers Empire to help you get started:
1. Friends are unique
With the disruption caused by COVID-19, it’s an ideal time for students to think about the qualities that make a good friend and to show appreciation for the friendships they have in their lives. Challenge: Design something in Makers Empire to show a friend how much you appreciate them. Think about what makes your friend special and unique. Consider their hobbies, favourite things and the activities you enjoy doing together
2. You are not alone
Some children feel alone or lonely. Not everyone feels like they have close friends to look out for them and have fun with. Challenge: Design something that gives a message of hope to a child who feels alone or lonely. These designs could be shared as digital images in Makers Empire or 3D printed trinkets to remind children that someone cares about them and is thinking about them.
3. Best friend pendant
3D printing is great for making unique and creative jewellery. Why not design a pendant or keychain that can be shared with a friend? Challenge: Design a pendant or keychain that consists of two pieces. One for you to wear and one to share with a friend. The design needs to look good as a whole but also be able to be split into two pieces and worn separately.
4. Collaborate with a pal
Working with others to design something awesome, is a great way to develop collaboration skills and appreciate the unique ideas and talents that others have. Challenge: Spend 10 minutes creating a design of your choice in Shaper or Blocker. As soon as the time is up, stop designing and swap your device with a partner. You now have another 10 minutes to complete the design that your partner has started.
5. Positive signs
Have you noticed people behaving in ways that upset you? Perhaps you have witnessed bullying or harassment? Don’t be a bystander. Make a stand against negative behaviour by making a strong statement. Challenge: Create a 3D sign that can be displayed in your school or community to communicate a positive message and encourage people to treat each other with respect.
6. Imagine and create
Listen to John Lennon’s famous song, Imagine, and think about the world he imagined for us all. Challenge: Design something using Makers Empire to show how you imagine the world could be if it was a better place. Make the world of your hopes and dreams.
7. Respond with compassion
Our children are very aware of what is happening in the world around them. The world can be a scary, confusing and upsetting place so it’s important to pay attention to how our children are feeling and coping with. It helps to be open and honest with children, to listen to their concerns and respond with honest, reassuring information.
Challenge: Have you heard about something that happened to another person that has upset or concerned you? If you could speak this person what would you say to them? How would you let them know that you care about them and what happened to them? Design something you could give this person to show them how you feel.
8. Wear your heart on your sleeve
Throughout time people have worn badges, patches and pins to communicate what is important to them, from peace symbols in the 1960s, to pins that show a club you belong to, and badges to show your achievements.
Challenge: Design a 3D badge that tells the world what is important to you. Try and use as few words as possible to show your message. What do you feel most strongly about? What do you wish more people cared about?
9. 3D citizen
What does a responsible, active and informed citizen look like? How do they treat other people? What qualities and characteristics do they have? What do they care about? How do they participate in their communities?
Challenge: Design a figurine of the citizen you would like to be or become. Think about how you can use 3D design to show personal qualities and positive actions.
10. Community artwork
Share a message of love with your school community. Challenge: Build a community artwork that is created collaboratively by every student in the class or even the whole school. Imagine a 3D printed mural on a school wall that every student has contributed a small piece to. See this great example by Braemar College, whose teachers and students each contributed a 3D printed cube to their new school artwork. a