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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore to tātou waka e ū ki uta


A ballet dancer, a duck hunter and a netball player stood amongst other outcomes in a Materials workroom when Year 7 students used their knowledge and skills to create individual figurines related to their own hobbies. 

South Otago High School Junior Technology Centre students Michael, Aprille and Alice learnt about the performance properties of materials in their Materials Technology class. They explored a variety of materials and discussed their performance properties, then worked on manipulation activities such as felting, knitting, papier-mâché, fusing plastic and working with polymer clay. This scaffolded their conceptual understanding of:

  • how the performance properties of materials influence the ways they can be manipulated (Technological Product strand)
  • how to manipulate materials before they begin to use them in response to a brief

The students were given a brief that required them to create a figurine representing their interests or hobbies, and to use their knowledge of the performance properties of materials and how they can be manipulated in developing the figurine. They sketched their design and then tested and trialled different materials (using functional modelling techniques) to see what would be most suitable for their purpose. The students were provided with wire to make the structure of their figure, and made the head from papier-mâché. 

Michael – duck hunter                              

Michael and his father enjoy duck hunting, and this inspired Michael’s figurine design. His hunter is dressed in trousers and a vest made from camouflage-patterned fabric, with a jersey underneath made from a woollen fabric. Michael says this material was easy to cut and he could stretch it a bit if necessary when sewing the pieces, but that it was difficult sewing the jersey. Because it was so small, he hand-sewed the clothing and found that forcing the needle through the fabric and tying the ends of the thread was quite tricky. Michael used tape to fix the clothing onto the figurine and notes that it was awkward taping things onto the wire frame. He made the hair, “blonde, because I’m sort of blonde”.

Michael planned to construct the gun out of wire but when he trialled this, he found that it was difficult to adjust the wire to the right height and that the gun would easily bend because the wire was very flexible. He changed his design and used a wooden skewer instead; this was easy to cut and gave a better shape to the gun, and was a better material for painting. Michael made shoes from polymer clay, which he painted black to match the rest of the outfit. He finished his work by adding a prop – a multi-coloured duck also made from polymer clay.

Asked if he would change anything if he made the figurine again, Michael said he would probably make long sleeves for the vest to cover the papier-mâché arms. Michael’s family were impressed with his work – his father was away hunting when it came home so Michael sent him a photo by phone: “He was pretty pleased about it.” The figurine now stands in the sitting room by the television.                                                            

Aprille – ballet dancer

Ballet provided the inspiration for Aprille’s figurine and influenced her selection of materials – she wanted textiles suitable for the beautiful, graceful look associated with ballet. Aprille chose fabrics with a satin and lace appearance for the dress, and decorated the black outfit with a contrasting pink ribbon. She found the shiny ribbon was quite hard to work with but she wanted that material to make the outfit look good. Aprille says that connecting the various sections of dress was the most difficult part of the construction process, due to the small scale of the work.

Aprille manipulated wire into a dance pose for her figurine, and covered the limbs with papier-mâché. She made shoes from polymer clay and decorated them with flowers cut out from the clay. Aprille used fake fur for the hair but isn’t entirely happy with the effect, saying she would use a different material next time. Aprille is pleased with the overall look of her outcome, and wouldn’t make any other changes to it.

Alice – netball player

Alice's netballer

Alice’s figurine reflects her enjoyment of netball, with her netball player poised to shoot a goal. Its head, arms and legs are all made from papier-mâché. Alice fused pieces of plastic with an iron to make the goal attack bib, cutting this new material into shape and sewing it together. She says the most difficult aspect of the whole construction process was cutting out the letters for the bib. “It was really, really fiddly, because the letters were so tiny.” Alice trialled cutting out the letters and found that they were too big for the bib. For her next trial, she worked out the size before cutting them, and the smaller size was successful. Because the letters were made from plastic, she fused the letters onto the bib – a process which wasn’t as straight forward as it seemed. It was difficult getting the iron into the tiny parts of the bib and the letters started peeling off. She solved this problem by pressing the iron on for longer. Using polymer clay, Alice made bright green shoes to match the bib and added contrasting orange buckles.

Alice added some more colour by using purple wool which she felted into a round shape for the netball. The figurine’s hair was made from fake fur glued onto the head – “because I liked the colour and the feel of it.” Alice says if she were doing this again, she would use wool instead, “because it’s less sticky-uppy.” However, she is happy with how her figurine turned out and has it displayed at home in her bedroom.   

Further material.

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