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Upcycle!: Musical Instruments

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Post your work from each phase in a blog post on your Learning Log.  One post for each phase of the Design Cycle.

Phase 1: Inquiring and Analysing
  1. explain and justify the need for a solution to a problem for a familiar group of people 
  2. construct a research plan which states and prioritizes the research needed to develop a solution to the problem independently 
  3. analyse a group of similar products that inspire a solution to the problem 
  4. present the analysis of the findings from a range of sources relevant to the development of a possible solution, cited appropriately

What is upcycling?
Do some research into the term and how it is used.  Give some examples of upcycling and discuss the implications of each. (1-2 paragraphs)

What's already out there?
Explore some online sources to find a broad range of examples of upcycled musical instruments (15-20) and arrange them into a concept map. Include hyperlinks to the webpages where you found them.

Choose 3 or 4 of the instruments that you found and present them as possible projects for you to work on for this unit.  Criteria you may use to help you choose could include the availability of resources, skill level required or personal interest.  For each idea, explain why you picked it and what challenges might be involved and summarise any feedback you got.  

Final Choice and Justification
Explain which idea you selected and why you selected it.  Be specific about what made this idea stand out above the others.

Guiding Questions
Make a list of questions to help guide the next phase of the project.  The answers to these questions will form the basis for your Design Specifications and will help keep you on track for the rest of the project.  They may include things like the sound you are looking for or the materials you might need.  (5-7)

Phase 2: Developing Ideas

  1. develop a design specification which outlines the success criteria for the design of a solution based on the data collected 
  2. present a range of feasible design ideas using an appropriate medium(s) and annotation, and which can be correctly interpreted by others 
  3. present and outline the reasons for choosing the final design with reference to the design specification 
  4. develop accurate planning drawings/diagrams and outline requirements for the creation of the chosen solution.

Design Specifications
These will probably come out of the Guiding Questions from the previous phase.  They will address specific, measurable characteristics for the finished product.  For example:

"The finished instrument will be completely made from upcycled materials."
"The finished instrument will be able to produce the notes of a major scale."

Here are some specifications that we agreed on as a class:
The instrument will:
  1. upcycle old materials where possible
  2. be durable
  3. be able to produce a variety of sounds 
  4. be performance quality
  5. permit the player to improve with practice
  6. challenge you as a maker
Now add some more of your own to this list (at least 8 including these.)

Now that you know what instrument you want to make, do some more research to try to find different sets of instructions to create a few different versions.  You may end up using one, or combining ideas.  You may include some ideas of your own.  Present 3-4 variations here with rough sketches or pictures and descriptions that will help the reader recognise the differences between them.

Final Design
Present a detailed description and justification for your final choice of design idea along with labeled planning drawings (multiple views, if needed). Include measurements where needed.  Be sure to cite sources appropriately.

Phase 3: Creating the solution

  1. outlines a plan, which considers the use of resources and time, sufficient for peers to be able to follow the plan to create the solution 
  2. demonstrates excellent technical skills when making the solution 
  3. follows the plan to make the solution which functions as intended and is presented appropriately 
  4. lists the changes made to the chosen design and the plan when making the solution.

During this phase of the project, you will keep track of the steps that you went through to construct your instrument. Others will be able to look at your work for ideas and benefit from your experience.  

When you put it on your project page, you can post it as a series of steps. Have a look at the following Instructable to see an example of what you will be presenting:


Notice that each Instructable begins with a picture of the final product.  Then, it lists the tools and materials needed.  Then it shows the steps.  Most try to break a project down to around 6-8 steps.  If you run into any difficulties along the way, be sure to include those and the solutions that you found for them.  These can be 'tips' for the reader, so they don't run into the same problems with their projects.

Be sure to include a section that explains and justifies any changes from your original design from the previous phase of the Design Cycle. It is OK to make changes. This is all part of the process. But be sure to explain what you changed and why you changed it. This is the evidence of learning that we are looking for in your written work.

Also, be sure to take pictures along the way! This will make your process journal easier to follow and will likely save you some writing.  Keep in mind that the reader should be able to understand your steps and create a similar project of their own based on your information.

Phase 4: Evaluating
  1. design detailed and relevant testing methods, which generate data, to measure the success of the solution 
  2. critically evaluate the success of the solution against the requirements based on authentic tests 
  3. explain how the solution could be improved 
  4. explain the impact of the solution on the client/target market.

In this phase, you will reflect on both the quality of your product and on the process that you went through to develop it.  

The Product
Summarise the feedback that you got about the project.  What did people like about it?  What didn't they like?  Do you agree?  With a little more time, how would you change it?  If you had some more time to work on it, or were going to build a new version, what could you do to take it to the next level? How does it play?  How does it sound?  To what extent does it fulfil the specifications that you set at the beginning?

The Process
Consider your work at each phase of the Design Cycle.  How well did you manage your time and resources?  Did your work at one step help inform what you had to do in the next?  Were the steps that you went through helpful?  Where did you do well?  Where could you improve?  To what extent were you successful in accomplishing what you set out to do?  What steps will you take to improve the quality of your work on future projects?