3D model­ling and laser cut­ters in the classroom

How the Has­so Platt­ner Institute’s Kyub sys­tem brings digi­tal and prac­ti­cal lear­ning together

Stu­dents desig­ning a chair, a gui­tar or a loud­spea­k­er during a sin­gle les­son, then working on them as a 3D model, cut­ting pie­ces out of wood with a com­­pu­­ter-con­­trol­­led laser cut­ter - are the­se the les­sons of the future?
The Has­so Platt­ner Institute’s inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry Kyub sys­tem could make that hap­pen. Kyub has litt­le to do with clas­s­­room-style tea­ching, text­books and clas­si­cal lear­ning con­cepts. A soft­ware helps the pupils to design an ever­y­day object in digi­tal form. The cor­re­spon­ding com­pon­ents are cut out using the laser cut­ter, con­trol­led by the soft­ware, and built by the stu­dents them­sel­ves in the class­room. Com­plex lear­ning con­tent thus beco­mes tan­gi­ble and can be pro­ces­sed using one’s own initia­ti­ve. This also pro­mo­tes manu­al dex­teri­ty as well as thin­king and digi­tal competence.

But the inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry les­son is not yet over: the class lear­ns from working on its own par­ti­cu­lar objects. What does the guitar’s sound box sound like and what hap­pens to the sound if the body is enlar­ged or redu­ced? This is whe­re know­ledge about phy­sics can be made tan­gi­ble, but the tea­chers can just as easi­ly focus in their les­sons on design, a basic under­stan­ding of engi­nee­ring or basic sci­en­ti­fic methodology.

From digi­tal con­sump­ti­on to deve­lo­p­ment and production

Prof. Dr. Patrick Bau­disch, who heads the Human Com­pu­ter Inter­ac­tion depart­ment at the Has­so Platt­ner Insti­tu­te, is respon­si­ble along with his team for the deve­lo­p­ment of the over­all Kyub sys­tem and is curr­ent­ly working on a pilot pro­ject with the Grace Hop­per Com­pre­hen­si­ve School in Tel­tow. The new form of lear­ning is being direct­ly inte­gra­ted into the school rou­ti­ne, with trai­ning, soft­ware main­ten­an­ce and the imple­men­ta­ti­on clo­se­ly moni­to­red by the team from the Has­so Platt­ner Institute.

“We don’t just want to make the pupils into con­su­mers of digi­tal media becau­se we also want to teach them to design and pro­du­ce. By doing this, we are actively brin­ging ana­lo­gue and digi­tal tog­e­ther, and this com­bi­na­ti­on is cen­tral for us to achie­ve the desi­red goal,” Bau­disch says about their approach. “Digi­tal does­n’t mean that one knows how to use Tik­Tok insi­de out - digi­tal means actively par­ti­ci­pa­ting in the digi­tal world. We give the pupils the neces­sa­ry tools and the­r­e­fo­re the oppor­tu­ni­ty to deve­lop further.”

The class recei­ves a groun­ding in digi­tal liter­acy so that they can ope­ra­te the pro­gram­me and also con­fi­gu­re their own ide­as. When then assembling the indi­vi­du­al parts, it’s all about them being able to check the func­tion­a­li­ty of their own design. That’s when the digi­tal idea beco­mes concrete.

The Kyub sys­tem con­sists of three main com­pon­ents: a cur­ri­cu­lum of chal­len­ging pro­jects, a soft­ware that works via all the com­mon web brow­sers and, then the laser cut­ter that accu­ra­te­ly cuts out the ele­ments to size.

One les­son, one project

What is spe­cial is the speed with which the Kyub sys­tem allows pro­jects to be imple­men­ted. This is essen­ti­al for its deploy­ment in schools becau­se you only need a sin­gle les­son to go from the initi­al design to the finis­hed chair.

“The speed of the sys­tem plays a major role. It not only allows pupils to try out lots of things, but, more important­ly, to work through the sequen­ces of chal­lenges we’­ve crea­ted. For exam­p­le, befo­re the pupils can design and con­s­truct their own gui­tar, they work their way through a series of seven strin­ged instru­ments over the cour­se of 1-2 les­sons when the indi­vi­du­al ele­ments of a gui­tar are gra­du­al­ly intro­du­ced and unders­tood. This allows the lear­ners at the end to design and con­s­truct their own gui­tar based on their new­ly won exper­ti­se,” Bau­disch says.

The cur­ri­cu­lum is enhan­ced by the stu­dents vary­ing the con­tent with the help of the pro­gram­me and put­ting what they have alre­a­dy lear­ned into prac­ti­ce – that’s how inno­va­ti­on can be achie­ved. How about, say, a twis­ted gui­tar neck? What kind of sta­tics does a chair need to func­tion as such?

Tea­chers can thus use the Kyub sys­tem to enhan­ce spe­ci­fic parts of the cur­ri­cu­lum and use real-life examp­les to crea­te an inno­va­ti­ve tea­ching expe­ri­ence for their pupils. The focus on sound waves or sta­tics leads to lear­ning units in phy­sics. And one needs mathe­ma­tics and a know­ledge of engi­nee­ring for sta­tics. But design or his­to­ri­cal aspects can come up just as well. The class can avail its­elf of the programme’s auto­ma­tic pre­sets depen­ding on how one com­bi­nes Kyub and the clas­si­cal curriculum.

The tea­chers then deci­de­which chal­lenges the stu­dents want to set and whe­re the sys­tem may help. For exam­p­le, if the course’s objec­ti­ve is pri­ma­ri­ly to crea­te an attrac­ti­ve chair design, Kyub will then inde­pendent­ly add the neces­sa­ry rein­force­ments during the design pro­cess so that the chair can func­tion in an ever­y­day situa­ti­on. If, howe­ver, the syl­labus is focu­sing on aspects of sta­tics, then it’s pre­cis­e­ly the­se auto­ma­tic mecha­nisms which can be deac­ti­va­ted so that it will soon be appa­rent in prac­ti­ce as to whe­ther the chair is fit for use in the first place. Whoe­ver is faced with dif­fi­cul­ties must actively search for solu­ti­ons. That’s clo­ser to real life than what the usu­al les­sons can other­wi­se do.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Bau­disch and his team at HPI wel­co­me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their expe­ri­en­ces and enter into an exch­an­ge with other schools. You can cont­act them at the fol­lo­wing email address: schule@​kyub.​com.

Kyub, a day with tea­chers from the Grace Hop­per Com­pre­hen­si­ve School in Teltow:

About MTH Blog

The media tech­no­lo­gies of the future are alre­a­dy being used today – not only in the enter­tain­ment sec­tor, but also in a wide varie­ty of indus­tries. Chris­ti­ne Lentz meets up with tech enthu­si­asts, estab­lished com­pa­nies and rese­ar­chers for our month­ly Media­Tech Hub Pots­dam blog to tell the sto­ries behind the inno­va­ti­ve busi­ness models.

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About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.