prototype machine made of recycled objects with LED light powered by and apple and a banana

Making Machines with Mellers Primary

On Tuesday 10th March I was welcomed into Miss Bird’s class at Mellers Primary in Nottingham to talk to the class about the meeting under the cherry trees when they blossom in Christ Church Gardens in Nottingham (around the corner from the school) and the Future Machine that is due to appear at this meeting in the gardens.

I talked about the gardens, showed them pictures of the machine and explained how it worked and what it did and talked a little about climate change, CO2, how trees are important for us to turn CO2 into oxygen so that we can breathe. We also talked about the seasons, how early Spring started this year and what blossoms and flowers we could see.

Miss Bird’s class has a wonderful atmosphere and the children responded imaginatively when I asked them all to build their own Future Machines from recycled things (cardboard and plastic bottles) that they brought from home and felt, string and masking tape I brought along with me.

First the class drew their plans for the machines based on the questions I asked them:
– What does it do?
– What does it look like?
– What does it see?
– What does it protect?

The class came up with amazing things to protect in the future including pandas, the moon, friends, other animals and trees. Each machine had wheels and a small LED light.

A Future Machine made by children from Mellers Primary out of cardboard and bottle tops

Once the designs were drawn the class started making the prototypes, quite a bit of focused and excited chaos ensued as they found the materials they had brought in, stuck things together (with a larger demand than expected on masking and sellotape) and the machines took shape. Towards the end it appeared that some children had excess materials and some not enough so we worked out a barter system where everyone stopped working to listen, and those who were missing things asked the class if there were any spare and the class very generously shared amongst each other (adults could learn something from the thoughtful and open way the children did this).

At the end we managed to get one of the LED lights working with the machine (see top photo), powered by an apple and a banana. You can hardly see the light but a small red glow appeared at the front of the machine once the fruit was connected through the electric circuit, showing the children how we need to think differently about energy and also how difficult it is to power more than a light or a small clock!

Finally nearly 28 machines were created, each with their own unique vision of how to look after and protect the world in the future.

Ongoing conversations are taking place about how Mellers Primary can continue to work with us in Christ Church Gardens and follow the trees as they go into blossom each Spring, help the council decide how to improve the gardens and learn more about the species, plants and seasonal changes happening right around the corner from the school and where they live.

Sadly due to the Coronvirus it is unlikely that the class will be able to meet under the trees when the they blossom this bizarre and uncertain Spring in 2020, but plans are underway to meet in the garden in the future and hopefully when the trees blossom next Spring.

Watch the blossoms in Christ Church Gardens as they go into blossom, and the unfolding and uncertain story so far this Spring here:
http://christchurchgardens.whenthefuturecomes.net