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

Exploring unfamiliar materials

Two year 12 students from St John's College describe what they know about bamboo and how they are applying this knowledge to their projects. They describe processing the bamboo as a raw material and how this has grown their material understandings.

Duration: 02:44


Student 1: The process we went through to get the bamboo was, first, we had to go basically cut it down. 

Student 2: And we’ve bought it into school and we’re just mucking around with it at the moment.

Student 1: Originally, it was that we got big pieces like this, this one here. So we bought it back to school and then we realised that it actually was too green to be used. So then what we did with Mr Andrews was we, first we cut it into lengths. So we cut it down the middle, and then what we did is we developed a drying oven to actually put the bamboo in the drying oven and dry it out. Otherwise, it would take six, about six months to naturally dry out.

Student 2: We’ve cut them into thinner strips and then put them through the thicknesser, and that’s how we got sort of flat strips like this. We knew what sort of equipment and tools to use because we’d done stuff before with other materials from previous years and projects. So we sort of just applied our knowledge of timbers to the bamboo.

Student 1: So what we’ve found out from the bamboo so far is that it can be machined as is shown here. It can be put through machines, it can be cut, it can be dried out, which is in a faster way than what it naturally is. And we also found out through testing that the bamboo flexes more this way than what it does this way. And it’s stronger this way. So you can see you can actually bend it right around until it breaks, until about ... breaks properly (it’s actually quite strong this one) like that. And then this way it’s a lot harder, and it splits like that.

The way I’m going to apply it to my project is the part that is stronger is going to go on the top of my board. So if I was to use bamboo, it would be this part here because it’s stronger and so it will make my project overall stronger and it won’t snap or break.

Student 2: The main force on my board is going to be downwards force and drag from the water, and so the bamboo is going to have to go this way on the bottom because that’s the way it flexes and it’s stronger this way. And yeah, and so it’s going to stand up to the forces that are applied onto it. And so it’s going to compress down and expand on the bottom without breaking.

Curriculum links

Follow the link below to view a diagram showing the structure of the strands and components within technology:

The students in the video are talking about bamboo as a material. Understandings of materials form an integral part of the technological products component. These understandings also feature within the outcome development and evaluation component. Select the links below to read more about these components:

Reflective questions

  • What opportunities do I provide for students to process raw materials?
  • Do our junior programmes provide students with the confidence to explore and consider a range of materials for the products they are developing when they are in the senior school?

Related resources


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