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  • Support For Developing Countries – Great choice AQA!

    At Practical Action we are delighted that the examination board AQA have included ‘support to developing countries’ as one of their recently released contextual challenges offered to GCSE D&T students.

    As an international development organisation with a focus on technology to address poverty, we are delighted that students have been given this great opportunity to complete an indepth project on such an important issue.

    As an ex D&T teacher, I would be tempted myself to spend some time browsing through Practical Action’s main website, which is full of inspirational stories of how peoples’ lives have been transformed through access to technology in areas such as Renewable energy, Water and sanitation and Food and agriculture.

    For those of you that like to find out more of the technical details behind the projects, we have a wide range of technical briefs and publications that provide technical information to support the international project work.

    Support for GCSE students

    As a starter activity I would be tempted to inspire them to choose a development context by running a mini hands-on STEM challenge this term. Any of the STEM Challenges are good, but the Stop The Spread and/or the Squashed Tomato challenges are most suitable for Yr10 students and quickly introduce them to how life changing technology can be.

    As for your students needing to identify particular clients and stakeholders for their product research and development, I’d suggest these top three FREE downloadable materials make good starting points on Practical Action’s School’s site.

    1. Global Goals – introduces the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also known as Goals Global) that highlight a set of targets to reduce/end world poverty by 2030. Many of the Global Goals including Water and Sanitation, Climate Action, Sustainable Cities have targets whereby technology plays an important role.
    2. Global Project Ideas – a set of five sheets that set out some of the biggest global challenges and a wide range of issues/problems for which technology can play a significant role.
    3. Design For A Better World – a designed based activity enabling students to think of the technologies and product we need in the future to meet the Global Goal targets.

      Design For A Better World

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We hope these materials help you and your students to feel inspired to choose a development theme for their GCSE project. Please get in touch if we can be of further help schools@practicalaction.org.uk

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  • Primary Science- What’s the story?


    April 4th, 2018

    I am a self-confessed twitter geek. I love twitter. I start my day with twitter. As soon as my eyes have focused after my alarm goes off and before I even have my first coffee I can’t resist having a quick peak!   For me it is both a way to keep up to date with what is going on in the sector, plus a way to share the work I do that I am so passionate about.

    So, recently on twitter I was disappointed and dismayed to see a link to an article in TES on how primary science is ’dying ‘ in our primary schools. The article highlight concerns that:

    I must admit I was surprised by this as my experience from going to conferences and feedback from teachers generally is that there is a thriving community of passionate science mad primary teachers out there. Maybe I only ever meet the already converted. I hope not.

    It seems to me that a lot of factors influence the teaching of primary science. If you are a primary teacher where you live has a huge bearing on what support/training is available to you. If you are lucky enough to live in Leeds you will have a great support network. Just this week I attending the fantastic Leeds Primary Science conference and was really inspired by the teachers commitment there, not just to ‘do’ science but to do it with rigor,  focusing on good practice around the 5 key aspects of enquiry. Sadly not all areas offer support like Leeds, but there are other national initiatives out there with regional support you can look at. The Association of Science Education (ASE) has a great primary science community and offers CPD at its conferences. Primary science Quality Mark (PSQM) and the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) also offer support.  For a different kind of hands-on help you could also tap into the STEM Ambassadors network, a network of STEM professional keen to come into your school to …for free!

    Back to twitter…embracing social media really can help you with your science teaching. Primary Rocks has really taken off this year, and they love science! You can join then every Monday evening at 8pm on a twitter chat #primaryrocks and at the same time ( yes I do flick between the two!) the ASE have their twitter chat #ASEChat which includes sharing ideas on primary science. So many great people /organisations to follow, to start with I would recommend @theASE @CREST-Star @UnleashPriSci @priscigeeks @seeley_claire  @pstt_whyhow  @primaryrocks1 @PSQM_HQ  @IgniteFutures @lab_13 @Sarahpurplee  @kulvinderj @Scikathryn and of course @PA_Schools. Many of these also have Facebook pages too…why not do both!

    Then there are lots of amazing free resources for primary science. Explorify is getting a lot of love from the primary science community, and other resources can be found on schoolscience.co.uk and the STEM Learning website. Then there are our primary materials of course and the materials linked to the CREST Star and CREST Discovery awards

    So… back to what’s the story. I think it is that if you are a primary teacher and you want to see good quality primary science in your school it’s up to you gather all the support you can then dive it. Things you can do to get started include:

    JOIN – a local support network if there is one in your area, and look at schemes like the PSQM or PSTT.

    ATTEND – conferences that host CPD, such as the ASE national and regional conferences

    CONTACT – organisations willing to help you, like the STEM Ambassadors network

    FOLLOW – inspiring/supportive accounts on twitter and Facebook.

    USE – The great free resources that are out there…including ours!

    Here’s hoping that if enough primary teachers do that the report in a few years time will tell a different story.

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  • Ditch the Dirt…a NEW STEM challenge

    We think young people will love it!

    Practical Action’s latest Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) challenge ‘Ditch the Dirt’ offers a great opportunity for pupils to explore how simple water filtering techniques can remove so much ‘dirt’ from contaminated water.

    Set around the real-life context where millions of people worldwide don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water, Ditch the Dirt enables pupils to find out for themselves how science and technology can play a critical role in developing sustainable solutions to global challenges.

    Pupils start by exploring their own daily water use before learning about the challenges for many children and women in Turkana, Kenya to collect water from ground water holes, on average 3 miles from home.

    Pupils then learn about the impact on health of drinking ‘dirty’ water before researching and developing their own  ideas for ‘cleaning’ water and making it safe to drink.

     

    One of the primary science teachers involved in trialling the materials explains,

    ‘Setting these science investigations in a real-life context really motivated the pupils to develop the best filtering systems they could. It made the science relevant to them, they could clearly see how science can make a difference to peoples lives.’

     

    Ditch the Dirt can be used to gain the British Science Association’s CREST awards at both primary and secondary level.  To see which levels it can be used for, and to view our other popular STEM challenges accredited for CREST go to the CREST page on our website.

    We look forward to sharing stories from children and teachers who use the Ditch the Dirt challenge materials over the next months.

    Enjoy them and please share the link with your own contacts of  teachers and parents.

    The materials for Ditch the Dirt can all be found here. Ditch the Dirt.

     

     

     

     

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  • ASE Science conference – a great way to kick start the year!


    January 12th, 2018

    Back to the office this week after four fun packed/exhausting days at the Association of Science Education (ASE) conference. As always the conference was really inspiring and a great way to kick start the new year.

    We love this conference for us so many reasons. Firstly, we get to meet some great teachers who haven’t heard of us before and are delighted when we tell them what we have to offer…for free! It’s a lovely feeling knowing that as a result of talking to us they will start using our teaching materials with their pupils. Then there are all the teachers we meet who already use our stuff, and come along to tell us how much they like it, which is hugely motivating, and great to capture. See the video below from Paul Tyler @Glazgow, a primary teacher from Glasgow. As if that wasn’t enough we also catch up with other colleagues in the sector too like those working for STEMLearning, Earthwatch, The Global Learning Programme and of course the ASE, so we can find out what everyone else is doing and where we might be able to support each other in the future.

    A new thing for us was running a workshop on International Day where we shared the work we have done as part of our EU funded project Girls into Global STEM (GIGS for short :-)) It was really motivating to get such a positive response to the methodologies were are using in our project to get more girls interested in STEM careers,  focusing on both using STEM to solve global challenges and digital technology such as e-books to communicate pupils’ project work. Teachers enjoyed the hands on element of filtering water using chopped up banana skins too!

    One thing I have noticed is the last few years is there is more and more going on for primary teachers. The Primary pop up organised by Claire Seeley  @seeley_Claire was a great way for us to demonstrate our new Ditch the Dirt STEM challenge, and there was a real buzz in the room. Then, new for this year Nicola Beverley @NicolaBeverley1 organised a Primary Teachmeet, and I got the opportunity to give a 2 minute talk on our resources to over 100 super keen teachers as well as listen to examples of some great science going on in our primary schools…check out exporify

    So…if you teach science or have something to offer science teachers I would really recommend you keep an eye on the ASE website for the conference next year early January in Birmingham…and do come and say hello if you go as we will definitely be there!

    To view our materials, including our popular STEM challenges please go to www.practicalaction.org/schools

     

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  • Using real-world context in science and STEM


    October 27th, 2017

    I have always been passionate about both children’s education and global issues, so it’s a bit of a no brainer to me that where possible children’s learning should be set within a real-world, global context.  Happily this is also something that both the new science and D & T curricula in the UK are encouraging, so there is more reason that ever before for teachers to use this approach.

    In addition to making subjects more relevant and engaging Global Learning fosters respect for others, cultural awareness, empathy and a desire to make a difference to the world…all important values for the future generation, and the skills employers are looking for in a globalised society.

    For many years now at Practical Action our schools team have been producing resources that fit the UK science and D & T curriculum, but are also flexible enough to be used in STEM/science clubs, off-time-table days, transition and more. Our resources can also be used to gain a CREST award from the British Science Association, or as part of the Eco-schools initiative

    Most popular are our STEM challenges, which challenge pupils to find a STEM solutions to a global issues e.g. how to grow crops on land prone to flooding ( Floating garden challenge), gaining access to clean water and hand washing facilities ( Stop the spread) and what to do with waste plastics (Plastics challenge).

    Teachers around the UK are including our material in their planning, not just because they raise awareness of global issues and help develop those vital values and skills but also because they engage and motivate young people, and increase their interest in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

    So, if you are a teacher and have not tried our materials with your class before then why not:Plastics challenge

    • Take a look at our documents showing where our resources fit the UK science curriculum and choose one to make your lesson more engaging.
    • Try out a STEM challenges in your STEM/science club
    • Look at which resources can be used to gain a CREST award and maybe entered into the Big Bang Fair competition

    If you do use any of our materials with your pupils please let us know…we love feedback!

    I will be hosting an #ASEChat on Monday 30th October 8-9pm UK time, on this subject so please do join me to share any ideas or resources you may have that have worked for you…and to pick up some new ones.

    To keep in touch you can also follow me on twitter @julieBrown01, and  FaceBook  and sign up to our STEM Matters newsletter.

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  • Global Project Ideas


    September 29th, 2017

    Personally I don’t think there could be a better way of engaging young people with issues around poverty than giving them the opportunity to explore potential solutions themselves.

    If you agree then you will be pleased to know we have some new resources to help student do exactly that!!   Our Global Project ideas provide inspiring starting point for projects, with a focus on how STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)  skills can help us achieve the Global Goals, or sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    The materials are perfect for the CREST award scheme and can also be used as the basis of an extended project, or for the skills element of the Duke of Edinburgh award. They can also lead to great projects to be entered into the Big Bang Fair competition.

    We selected 5 global goals we feel have a particular STEM focus.

    Global Goal 2 – Zero HungerGlobal Project Ideas from Practical Action

    Global Goal 5 – Gender Equality

    Global Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

    Global Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

    Global Goals 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

    The Global Project Ideas sheets material provide suggestions for starting points for projects plus also really useful weblinks to help  pupils with their research.

    To find out more about the Global Goals themselves go to either the main UN site or a more schools focused site

    To see how you can get engaged in the CREST awards scheme go to the CREST area of our website

    If you do use these with your pupils please do let us know…we love feedback!

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  • Who’s responsible for the Global Goals?


    August 25th, 2017

    At Practical Action we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)  or Global Goals as they are also known. As an International Development charity committed to alleviating global poverty we are working towards achieving a number of goals, including those focusing on renewable energy access , gender equality, water and sanitation, climate action and no hunger…to name a few!

    What do young people think?

    We recently asked young people from around Europe that very question during a 5 day workshop that formed part of  our Girls into Global STEM project and their answers were really interesting. The overall feedback was that they felt it was their responsibility on several levels, both in the choices they make individually e.g. around reducing waste and carbon footprint, but also in that in the future they will be the ones deciding which Government is in power. There was also a strong feeling that the Governments around the world were responsible and could be doing more…who can disagree with that!

    Because of the real depth of critical thinking and discussion that resulted from this activity we thought other teachers around the world might like to use it too, so we decided to develop it into a freely available  teaching resource. Aimed at young people aged 10-18 It is a great activity for pupils who have some understanding of the Global Goals.

    Please do take a look at ‘Who’s Responsible?’ and use it to give young people the chance to think about their role and the role of  others in ensure we reach those all important goals.

    For other materials we have produced to develop understanding and promote action around the goals visit the Global Goals area of our website.

     

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  • Supporting Food teachers with NEW resources…

    When the specifications for the new GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition courses were released last year, we were delighted by the inclusion of opportunities for students to learn about issues that very much reflect the broader debates around food in the world today. They include issues around sustainability, the environment and the pros and cons of different food production systems.

    Although the different examination boards have approached the subject knowledge and understanding of these topics in slightly different ways, at the core of all of the specifications are requirements for students to demonstrate their understanding of:

    Food Choice – including factors that influence why people eat the food they do, including economic, social, moral and cultural factors

    Food Provenance – including where food originates from and the impact of its journey throughout its whole lifecycle on local and global communities

    Sustainability of Food – including the challenges of how best we achieve food security (access to adequate nutritious and affordable food) in a way that is sustainable now and for future generations.

    At Practical Action we’ve enjoyed drawing on our experience of working to improve people’s access to food security globally to 
    develop a set of three FREE resources to support teachers and students with these topics.

    Each set of materials contains a Power Point presentation, student worksheets and links to video clips and other resources to support these units.

    We hope you enjoy using them…please feel free to share them with other teachers and trainers.

     

     

    We always welcome feedback, so please leave a comment or contact Practical Action’s Schools team directly schools@practicalaction.org.uk.

    Keep up to date with other new resources by signing up to our STEM Matters Schools e-newsletter.

     

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  • Inspiration teachers – Think Global Educator of the Year Award #GEYA2017


    July 21st, 2017

    This year, in my role as a trustee I was privileged to attend Think Global’s Global Educator of the Year Award celebration event. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to be on a roof terrace next to The Oval.

    Four really amazing teachers, this year’s finalists, came together with friends, families and guests to share what they had been doing to encourage young people to find out about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals and what action they could take to help achieve them.

    The teachers had all worked in different ways, but what came across load and clear was their commitment to helping pupils understand how achieving the Global Goals are relevant to the whole world, UK included, and what action they could take as a result.

    Think Global Educator of the Year Award 2017 #GEYA2107

    Nathan Atkinson, Lottie O’Brian, Jane Yates ( winner) , Elena Longthorne ( winner 2016) Andrew Christie

    The winner, Jane Yates from Armathwaite Primary School has embedded global learning throughout the curriculum at her school, and inspired and encouraged students to be active citizens and critical thinkers. She also took the lead in developing awareness of the Global Goals through the schools 23 Global Learning Programme (GLP) partner schools, and other GLP expert centres across the country.

    Nathan Aktinson, Head of Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds set up the incredible Fuel for Schools project which now runs in 60 primary schools around Leeds. Lottie O’Brien, Head of Social Science at the Commonweal School created a new curriculum which threads global learning and in particular the Global Goals into teaching. Andrew Christie, Geography Coordinator at Whitehill Junior School leads the GLP network of 14 partner schools and has introduced a wide variety of projects linked to the Global Goals at his school.

    Paul Langley from Oxfam, one of the judges said:

    “The Global Educator of the Year award, and the work of Think Global, in inspiring, equipping and recognising the role teachers at the heart of global citizenship education is fantastic. Oxfam is delighted to be part of such an important event, congratulates all the finalists and looks forward to seeing what teachers will be doing in 2018!”

    If you know anyone who is doing great work in schools around global learning please contact Think Global and they will remind you when it’s time for next year’s nominations. We want to shout out about all the great work that is going on in schools around the UK.

    For activities round the Global Goals you could do with students please take a look at the materials on our website.

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  • Supporting pupils taking part in Eco-Schools


    July 17th, 2017

    If you are looking for a programme that is pupil led and encourages pupils to improve the sustainability of their school, community and the wider world, you really can’t get better than Eco-Schools.

    Pupils work on a number of topics in order to get an Eco-schools green flag, and amongst other things are required to show how the work they have done links to the curriculum.

    As an Eco-Schools assessor myself I very quickly saw how Practical Action’s resources could be used by pupils as part of the scheme. As well as being relevant to a number of topics such as Global Citizenship, Waste, Water, School Grounds and Healthy Living they would provide pupils with evidence of how the work they have done links to the science and D&T curriculum.

    So…I decided to make life easier for both teachers and pupils by pulling together all the relevant resources into a new area of our website. Feedback so far has been great, and we have had a surge of people looking at the new area of the site. Please do take a look, and if you know of any pupils using our material in this way please do get in touch, it will make my day!

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