Interdisciplinary Learning: Connecting The Dots

Interdisciplinary Learning: Connecting The Dots

by the faculty of the Grade 8 Design, English and I&S departments

The ability to transfer skills and understanding between disciplines has become an essential aspect in comprehending and confronting complex issues. This is especially true in the dynamic and integrated world our students are entering. Interdisciplinary Units (IDU), in which students link concepts and knowledge from two or more disciplines, allow them to explore new ideas and address current issues through a variety of perspectives helping give students insights that they may not have realized through the lens of a single subject. 

With this aim in mind, students in Grade 8 recently completed an IDU in which they were tasked with creating, designing and presenting a practical and relevant solution to a current world issue. Through exploring the UN Sustainable Development Goals and designing practical solutions to address them, students pitched their ideas to a panel of teachers and parents. As part of this process, students linked ideas and methods from the disciplines of Design, English and Individuals and Societies and were challenged to transfer skills and understanding, as well as to integrate perspectives between the subjects.

Students present their solutions to one of the issues addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals.

A panel of staff and parents judged the practicality and relevance of the students' solutions.

As a culmination to the project, groups of 3 to 4 students collaborated and crafted a presentation about the feasibility and impact of their product for a panel of teachers and parents who judged which product could make the most impact. The five finalists presented their ideas in the “Dragon’s Den” in which a final winner was chosen and offered a grant of ¥100,000 to help make their idea a reality. This year's winner was the Smart Bin, a crafty design to help reduce the amount of food waste in our cafeteria. A full description of the IDU project and all of the students' designs can be found on this site. The benefit of interdisciplinary learning can clearly be seen in the knowledge, communication skills and application of the design cycle, a key component of the Design courses taught to all students. Venus, a Grade 8 student said in her reflection,  “Overall, this IDU unit has provided valuable learning experiences for the future and has given me a chance to practice my skill in preparation for the future.”  As teachers we couldn't agree more. Congratulations to all the Grade 8 students for their incredible ideas and pitches. 

See pictures of the presentations in the Dragon’s Den on YIS Photos.