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Learning in the multiverse with Nüdel Kart

Imagine a resource kit for an entire classroom that students can use to create almost anything. This kit – Nüdel Kart – is resonating with teachers because, instead of supporting one concept at a time, it facilitates many overlapping layers of learning, mimicking real life.

The principles of multi-layered learning – making, adapting and integrating ideas– maximise children’s agency and leadership to learn about any given topic, without limits. This kind of learning is far more motivating and genuinely shows a child’s potential, and this motivation can then be leveraged to support their curriculum skills.

This kind of approach can also give students the opportunity to create and express their individual voice, while also learning how to negotiate and collaborate in a group setting.

Freedom of choice increases children’s sense of control and ownership over their learning as they choose tasks suited to their abilities and strengths which gives them confidence and the ability to take risks in areas they may feel less competent in.

Whether it’s using imagination and creativity, solving problems, developing social skills, or higher order thinking and resilience the Nüdel Kart and smaller Nüdel Rover are award-winning Australian-designed products deeply supporting a multi-layered approach to learning.

Nüdel Kart, a kit for an entire classroom, is proving popular among students and teachers at hundreds of primary schools around Australia. The all-in-one highly versatile package means schools are driving their dollar – and their student’s learning – further, with one resource that can be adapted for almost any class or program across the entire school.

Founder and CEO Mr Marcus Veerman. Image: Nüdel Kart

Developed by Playground Ideas, with 15 years of global experience in open-ended play-based learning, every part in the Nüdel Kart is meticulously designed to maximise children’s development throughout their primary years.

Founder and CEO Mr Marcus Veerman says research over the last 60 years has consistently and overwhelmingly shown the power of loose parts to support learning.

“Nüdel is a key tool educators can use to build foundational STEM and 21st century skills needed by children to thrive in our modern world,” he says.

The capacity to use the Nüdel Kart as a tool to build these key skills and layered lessons is a common conversation Mr Veerman has with school leaders.

“It’s something we talk about often with schools, and it seems to resonate strongly with teachers. I think that’s because this is the way we all learn in the real world, its messy and organic,” Mr Veerman says.

“When using Nüdel Kart or Rover, kids are learning about design, collaboration, negotiation, as well as developing high levels of emotional wellbeing. Nüdel resources allow teachers to think more holistically about the learning environment and students’ deep needs.”

Nüdels’ capacity for multi-dimensional learning can support skill development across an entire school, not only one class.

“The Nüdel Kart is a principal’s best friend. It has all the parts needed to do everything. It is one tool that you can throw at any problem, be it STEM or numeracy, or when a prop is needed for a drama production. It can also be used as a playground extension or an indoor wet weather timetable space. There really are no limits,” Mr Veerman says.

Children are so diverse and complex in their needs that Mr Veerman wanted to create a tool that was truly inclusive for all, so hundreds of hours of testing was completed to find the right balance.

“Our Nüdel range is universally tested to be highly engaging for all genders and cultures and suitable for children ranging from three to 12-years-old,” Mr Veerman says.

What is Nüdel Kart?

“In five years, Nüdel Kart has gone from a scribble on an envelope to become a fully-fledged, sustainable social enterprise supporting thousands of children to play and learn across the globe,” Mr Veerman says.

The 340-piece Nüdel Kart is about the size of a South-East Asian noodle cart and is delivered to schools flat-packed, but it’s called Nüdel Kart because it supports children to ‘noodle around’ and to ‘use their noodle’ – two expressions Mr Veerman says he has always loved.

Hundreds of hours of testing went into creating Nüdel Kart (right) and Nüdel Rover. Image: Nüdel Kart

Many schools assemble it as a project with their senior students. No drilling is required – all holes are pre-drilled and the only tool necessary is a battery screwdriver and spanner, similar to IKEA furniture.

The Nüdel Kart has enough parts for an entire class (up to 30 children) and the Rover has enough for a small group of up to 8-10. The Rover is most commonly used as a ‘meltdown mitigation’ tool to support unregulated students.

“Schools can always use more than one Nüdel Kart at a time for larger groups. We often run incursions for 90 students and three Karts at a time and the kids absolutely love it,” Mr Veerman says.

The Kart only takes 10 minutes to pack up, and the included pack up cards mean students can do it, making it easier on teachers.

“They have enough to think about and it’s good for the students to take responsibility wherever they can,” he says.

In March, the social enterprise launched Nüdel Pod, for one to two children, perfect for small enquiries, play and investigation.

Safety profile

The Nüdel range is made from 100% Birch, a flexible and splinter-free plywood timber, and includes some heavy pieces – but that shouldn’t be a deterrent, Mr Veerman says.

“Longitudinal research from the Sydney Playground Project showed that heavy parts are essential if you want high levels of social skills development,” he says.

“Heavy parts cannot be manipulated by only one child and therefore force children to collaborate, requiring higher order social and thinking skills such as negotiation, problem solving, compromise and so on. Small construction toys with tiny pieces can’t allow that. When you see children using the Kart, you can see the difference in their interactions straight away.”

“And texture is so important for children’s sensory needs, so we have left a real woodgrain feel on the edge of the wood, and so many different feeling parts that have different properties to explore to create a sensory experience.”

Nüdel has even gone as far as supplying a maintenance pack to help schools keep their Kart in its best condition for daily use.

Nüdel also offers Professional Development to schools around teaching and supporting creativity, and how to use the Nüdel Kart to its maximum extent instead of purchasing more resources that can lead to cluttered space.

“Open-ended child-led learning through unstructured exploration and experimentation has traditionally not been seen as an important priority in education,” Mr Veerman says.

“A cramped curriculum, lack of quality resources and spaces are often cited as problems. In some schools, the value of this type of learning may also be questioned by parents, and parent education may also be necessary.”

“Even now, we are still shaking off the shackles of an education system built during the industrial revolution.”

He says children (and adults) need time to consolidate their learning through open-ended spaces where they can explore and express their own knowledge and individuality.

Nüdel provides free 45-minute on-site demonstration of the Nüdel Kart. The sessions can accommodate up to 25 children and includes 30 minutes to observe children using the Kart, plus time for staff Q&A.

For more information, visit www.nudelkart.com.

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