Designing the future of ISD

Posted on 22nd Oct 2020 in School News, Netherlands

Ashly Bennett reports on how the connection with Technical University Delft brings a wealth of opportunities for International School Delft

International School Delft (ISD) is a rapidly growing school located in the historic city of Delft in the vibrant Western part of the Netherlands. It offers an International Baccalaureate (IB) based curriculum which will provide students of all ages with a high level, inquiry based and globally centred education. With a strong focus on the Design Cycle, ISD is uniquely positioned to benefit from its close connection to Delft’s Technical University, in both physical proximity and a collaboration. Plans are well underway for a new secondary school building to be placed on the campus of the university, directly across from the ISD primary department. This provides ISD and TU Delft with an excellent opportunity to work together to design and build the new school building based on their joint focus on technical innovation for a greener, more sustainable future.

The Design Cycle in IB

The Design Cycle plays an integral role in the IB curriculum because of its ability to stimulate the inquiry-based philosophy of the programme. The cycle is formed by four main steps which are: investigate, plan, create and evaluate. Students are taught to use this cycle because it stimulates them thinking about the function and real-world applications of any project they undertake. Students are encouraged to identify a problem to be solved, plan a solution using appropriate materials and processes, create the solution and evaluate the outcomes. By carrying out the cycle, students learn that problems come with multiple solutions and through inquiry, learn that the process of solving a problem is just as important as the solution itself. It is a tremendous learning tool that students can apply in all facets of their academic, and future careers.

Connection with TU Delft

The Technical University in Delft offers the perfect expression for this Design Cycle and provides the foundation for the already strong, and still growing connection, between it and ISD. The two educational institutions have frequently come together to explore an array of different technology, design, and science-based initiatives. One such meeting saw students from the primary school visit the Dream Hall at TU Delft to discuss and explore the potential, as well as the limitations, of implementing artificial intelligence to improve everyday life.

An added benefit that ISD students receive from this connection is the ability to make use of TU’s state of the art facilities whilst participating in projects hosted by the university. TU, working jointly with the municipality of Delft, carried out a design challenge which saw ISD secondary students compete against other regional schools to design a clock that would ‘make time visible’. To complete the project, ISD students were invited into TU Delft’s Science Centre to make use of the design lab facilities to create and build their project submissions.

There are many more future projects and workshops that will allow the students of both ISD and the Technical University to come together to collaborate and inspire one another in the fields of design and technological innovation for a more environmentally friendly world.

A new beginning

Once ISD secondary relocates to join the primary school on the campus of TU Delft it will become even easier to facilitate and carry out these collaborative projects. There is no other international school in the Netherlands that is located on a university campus, but there are a multitude of other Dutch vocational schools also on the campus, with whom we look forward to building strong relationships of shared knowledge and practices.

The Design Cycle will again be used as a focal point in further bonding the two schools together, as the design of the new secondary school will endeavour to adhere to TU’s green and sustainable campus initiatives. Following TU’s campus design, the new school building will focus on four main themes. Firstly, it will incorporate the surrounding nature and make use of sustainable and eco-friendly products. It will strive to provide a vibrant location that encourages healthy living, with less room for cars and more room for bikes and outdoor exercise. The new building will have less focus on the building as space and will focus more on the functionality and purpose of the building as a place to bring students together to learn and inquire. Lastly, the building and outside spaces will focus on being an environment that encourages diversity and multicultural cooperation.

The use of the design cycle in the IB, the close connection with the TU Delft, and the opportunities created by the new school building are all elements that will provide our students with the tools and skills they will need to become well connected and globally minded individuals in a modern and global world. The future of ISD is looking bright, green, and sustainable!

This article first appeared in John Catt's Guide to International Schools 2020/21, which you can view in full here: