My friends and work colleagues would tell you that I ‘m just not that good with technology. I got a new phone recently and when I posted the photo to the right on my facebook account (which I have to say I am proud that I know how to do!) the comments would confirm that.
So when I was asked by Think Global to present a webinar for them on ‘Integrating global learning into STEM’ I must admit my initial reaction was – what me? Really? As well as being flattered to be asked of course. The very lovely (and I have to say much younger, which i am convinced must have something to do with her less technophobic nature) Amy West convinced me it would all be fine so I took a deep breath and went for it!
I have to admit it was not as difficult as I originally thought to set up, although that may have been because Amy did most of the work! When the day finally came I just took a deep breath, followed instructions and off we went. To my delight it all worked well. In fact, more than that I got a real buzz from being part of something new. OK, so the sound quality wasn’t brilliant, but it worked and enabled me to talk to teachers I wouldn’t normally have been able to reach. Something my friends and family will also tell you is I just love talking about Practical Action and our education work so anything that gives me a platform to do that is good by me.
It didn’t end there however. After the event there was another technology challenge…how to share the webinar presentation with others. There was a lot of info on the presentation I thought others might be interested in and I wanted to share it. So with the help of colleagues here at Practical Action I learnt how to change a presentation into a YouTube video – how cool is that!
So, I am feeling really pleased with myself for trying out new technological things and actually getting to grips with them. Hope you enjoy the resulting video below.No Comments » | Add your comment
We’ve just spent three days at the GA conference at Derby University and are feeling inspired!
It’s the first time since we’ve added a Geography section to our schools website that Practical Action has exhibited at the conference and we’ll definitely be going again.
We’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of teachers, lecturers and HMI who came to the conference during their Easter holiday to attend workshops and the exhibition to update themselves on the future of Geography.
We were there to launch our new EuropAfrica education materials…offering a broad range of activities for 11-16 year old students on small scale family farming systems in Africa. Lots of teachers we met seemed enthused by the case studies and and in particular the Shamba Shape Up activities with an opportunity to develop a TV script based on a real life TV series.
We’re looking forward to hearing from schools over the next year about how the materials have been used.
Our new Floating Garden Challenge based on climate change and flooding was really well received too.
We’re looking forward to a new chapter of keeping Geographers updated with developments at Practical Action.
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I love the ASE conference. Every year before I have time to get stuck back into my ’real’ job after Christmas I am lucky enough to spend a few days chatting to enthusiastic teachers and others involved in science education about Practical Action’s Education work. I also get the chance to find out what else is going on in science education.
This year we were promoting our new STEM challenge. The Floating Garden Challenge is based on our work in Bangladesh where we show communities how to build huge rafts to grow their crops on. Students have to think about the problem themselves first…that farmers crops get ruined by floods… then design and build a model solution. Teachers and other educators were quick to see the value of the science behind the challenge as well as all the other great cross curricular links, including how it could lead to some great outdoor activities that there seems to be a move towards this year.
For me there is nothing more motivating than when colleagues tell you how teachers and students really enjoyed using your material and Liz Lister from Graphic Science ( aka @scarycurlgirl) got the prize for being the most enthusiastic!!
‘I really really love the squashed tomato challenge’
Was the first thing she said to me as she rushed over. I had to promise to send her a pile of our floating garden posters before she would leave the stand!!
Renewing and deepening relationships is also a real bonus of the conference. I know some people have been coming for years and real friendships have developed as a result. For me one of the highlights of the conference was getting back in touch with friends from Millgate House. By the end of the conference we had hatched a plan to work together on some resources for a new project called ‘Make the Link’, which aims to embed issues around Technology Justice in Science and D & T teaching in Europe. The staff at Millgate House even trusted me enough to give me a member of their team to look after. Ricky is a bit of an adventurer and we are hoping to arrange a trip to Kenya for him to visit some of Practical Action’s great projects there this year.
As it is the ASE’s 50th anniversary this year they will be holding an extra ASE conference in the summer on 27th and 28th June as a summer celebration . I have already got our place booked and can only recommend you do the same…hope to see you there.2 Comments » | Add your comment
Give your students a global problem and ask them to solve it.
The problem: In Bangladesh land is frequently flooded as a result of climate change, ruining crops grown for food. The result is that families go hungry
The Challenge: To design and make a model solution to the problem that will enable farmers to grow crops even when the land is flooded.
Students test their models to see which one holds the most weight when floated in water then look at how Practical Action has worked with communities in Bangladesh to build floating gardens out of local, sustainable material…. an example of technology justice in action.
Perfect for STEM and science clubs, NSEW, collapsed curriculum timetable days as well as for enhancing a lesson on forces.
Resources to help you deliver the challenge are free and include a PowerPoint, teacher’s notes, student worksheets, certificates and a beautiful A2 poster which you can request free. All materials are available in English and Welsh.
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A group of long standing Practical Action supporters are visiting Nepal to see examples of our work. Last week they visited a project in the Kathmandu Valley where Practical Action is working with a group of around 4,000 waste pickers, many of whom are children, to help them improve their living conditions.
You can read below some of the comments from the group about their experiences so far.
These waste pickers live in squatter settlements along the riverbanks of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal and make their living by selling materials such as plastic, metal, cloth and paper collected from tips, bins and roadsides. They are the poorest of the poor. They have no formal relationship with the municipality or recycling traders and have very low social status and earnings. Most are illiterate and lack the skills to add value to goods they’ve collected. As a result they are exploited by waste management organisations and working conditions are atrocious. They also suffer from a multitude of occupation related health problems and the children have no access to education.
Activities of this project include:
- Working with local government to formalise the role of waste pickers to improve their status in society include:
- Raising awareness about health and safety, water, sanitation and hygiene and handling hazardous waste
- Business skills training and help with setting up waste related enterprises
- Testing of new waste processing technologies
- Forming micro credit groups
- Informal adult education
- Providing basic education for both adults and children
Most memorable moments: Helen talking to a boy about a wonderful poster outside the school at the PRISM project while Kate from Practical Action later met a woman sorting plastic bags whose child was at the school. I’ve seen children in other countries scrubbing through waste to get a tiny amount of money just to survive. It was great to see a project helping adults do this unpleasant work safely while their children are at school getting an education.
Two posters – the first aimed at the public saying ‘waste pickers are those that keep the city clean – respect them and the second at the school with a picture of each child. It’s good to promote respect for those who do the dirtiest,worst jobs and also saying to each child that you have worth and you have the right to be treated decently.
Seeing Warwick and Kate from Practical Action seeing the work in action, Kate on her first ever project and seeing how the good work that they do in Rugby is actually helping people on the ground.
Best person you met today: Srijana, who did business studies at Coventry and is now at home working to improve the lives of the waste pickers of Kathmandu and their children.
Most memorable moment: The happy children at the primary school doing ‘Namaste’. It’s so good the waste pickers are able to pay for their children’s education.
Best person you met today: Srijana, with all her clear information and explanations and such a good attitude
What made you stop and think? What didn’t! Maybe the posters getting over the message that waste picking, with proper equipment (masks, gloves, boots) is a respectable profession.
Anything else you want to say? I was impressed by all the aspects of this project, adding up to improve these workers’ lives – health care, working together as a co-operative, educating their children.
Most memorable moment: Driving into the area around the waste sites and seeing the difference from the ‘tourist’ areas of Kathmandu we had seen the day before.
Best person you met today: I was impressed by the quiet dignity of women sitting in a row, hour after hour in baking sun shredding plastic bags
What made you stop and think? When we were told a plastic bag shredding machine would hugely boost the waste-pickers’ income by up to 25 Rupees per hour – the equivalent of 20 pence. OK, costs here are lower, but not that much lower.
Sam Crowe (aged 16)
Most memorable moment: Meeting and taking photos with the school children of Kathmandu
Best person you met today: A school child who was very enthusiastic about meeting new people and learning how a camera worked
What made you stop and think? Watching the waste pickers allowed you to reflect on life back at home.
Clive Quick (Sam’s grandfather)
Most memorable moment: Seeing the wet waste pickers at work
Best person you met today: The boss at the dry waste site
What made you stop and think? The whole idea of people living from the barest level of recycling and seeing the happy faces of the children of waste pickers at school
Anything else you want to say? Reading about how people live and seeing them on TV doesn’t impress nearly as much as meeting the people and seeing them at work.
Most memorable moment: The sea of multi-coloured plastic bags which had been torn up by the wet waste wworker women and was being raked over to dry. What do they do when it rains? Also, how healthy and full of energy the ‘graduate’ kids looked in their wall of fame.
Best person you met today: Srijana is pretty damn good.
What made you stop and think? How often can the dry waste men who sell to the dealer get back to villages to see families? Living conditions for those children with their books and clean, smart gingham shirts etc – it’s not just 20% of school fees investment by their families but also supporting them as school children.
Anything else you want to say? Of those who’ve ’graduated’ either from Lower Secondary or at 16 years old, what next for them? And if onward and upward, how does this square with the rest of their families and their lifestyle/circumstances?
I know the Olympics are over but last Friday I felt like we had won the gold medal!
We found out that that we had been successful in securing funding from the EC for a three year project. Practical Action will be managing the project with partners in Cyprus (CARDET), Poland (CCE) and Italy ( Oxfam Italia) as well as Engineers without Borders ( EWB) and the Centre for Science Education (CSE) in the UK.
Our project Technology challenging poverty: Make the link will focus around integrating issues around technology justice into science and design and technology education.
Students at both primary and secondary school will ‘make the link’ between:
- science and technology and global poverty reduction
- their own behaviour and the impact on the developing world
We are really exciting about what we will be able to achieve with this funding. It will enable us to not only produce a fantastic new range of support material for teachers but also include teacher training and a real opportunity to shape the policy and practice of science and D & T teaching within a large number of schools throughout Europe.
Watch this space!!
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We recently carried out a survey to find out how teachers use on-line resources and what they think of our resources in particular. We were thrilled that over 400 teachers took part. Thank you so much if you were one of them.
We found out really useful information that will help us work out more accurately how many students our material reaches and how it shapes students attitudes towards global poverty and subsequent behaviour.
14% of teachers share resources through social media
On average a teacher will share a resource with 53 students
23 % of teachers said our resources often increased students understanding of the role of technology in reducing poverty
35% of teachers said our resources often led to students leading a more sustainable lifestyle, a further 60% saying it they did ‘sometimes’
We also found out that once they know about us they become strong supporters, visiting our site on on average once a month
What was most heart warming was all the quotes from teachers saying how much they value our material.
‘ ..flexible yet detailed, simple to access and adapt with enough information that you can write a lesson plan in a few minutes using the information available. I frequently use Practical Action’s resources when being observed. Topical, up to date and best of all the students love them!
‘When using the tomato challenge students were surprised to see how technology can really help the poor.’
There is often an ‘aha’ moment when students make a connections between theoretical subject specific knowledge, a real work example and how it works for good’
‘..using the resource Moja Island I received an ‘outstanding’ observation’
We also asked teachers if they would be willing and able to introduce the concept of technology justice – the right of every one to have access to the technologies they need to live a life they value, without harming others now or in the future – into their teaching. To our delight a whopping 65% said they would definitely or be quite likely to do so. As Practical Action begins a movement towards technology justice we take this as a really good sign and will begin including it in our future educational material.No Comments » | Add your comment
Practical Action’s glasses were a real hit with the children at the Eco-schools conference yesterday. While the children were busy putting on their glasses and laughing at each other my colleague Bren and I had a chance to talk to their teachers. Teachers already engaged with the eco-schools project were really enthusiastic about how our resources would help them deliver the eco-schools agenda, particularly in three of the nine topics…..energy, water and global citizenship. Our STEM resources were particularly popular, and over 70 teachers signed up to receive our termly newsletter so they can keep in touch with new resources we produce.
In addition to students and teacher we also met education advisors from local authorities and other educationalists who as a result of meeting us will now be spreading the word amongst the network of teachers they work with.
….and finally, having stood for an hour waiting to catch just glimpse of Debjani Chatterjee carrying the Olympic torch through Sheffield the night before I actually met her at the conference and got to touch the torch!!!
To view our resources and order our free posters please go to our schools homepageNo Comments » | Add your comment
The link between energy and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a hot topic at the #Rioplus20 conference this week. As the Telegraph reported Practical Action is there ensuring #totalenergyaccess energy remains on the agenda.
To help geography students understand how the two are intertwined the schools team have produced a brand new resource. The resource consists of a pdf presentation to aid students initial understanding of MDGs and the issues around energy access followed by a hands-on activity which makes them think about the energy requirements for each of the MDGs.
Why not have a look at the presentation and have a go at the activity yourself ? http://bit.ly/L14Cvh
This new resource will be officially launched at the Eco-schools conference on Tuesday 26th June.No Comments » | Add your comment
Like many other people in this world, I take energy for granted…from my hot shower in the morning to my midday coffee.
When I went to Kenya last year, I saw what life was like without energy. I met people who had no:
- instant hot water for washing;
- electric or gas for clean cooking;
- refrigeration for vaccines or keeping food fresh;
- light in the evenings for studying or work;
- heating for keeping warm and drying clothes;
- cars to get from A to B;
- radio or television or internet for leisure;
- phones or internet for communication, learning or running a business.
And it struck me how hard it is for people to escape the viscious cycle of poverty without access to energy. People can’t get decent healthcare, a decent education or earn a decent living without access to energy.
Practical Action is advocating for Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 and it is an issue I feel very strongly about.
While reminiscing about my visit to Kenya, I said: “I couldn’t imagine my life without energy.”
And there it was…a challenge! So, in a bid to raise awareness of the issue of energy access, I am going without energy for a week. Yes, a whole week!
I am doing this in the week before the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development where thousands of people will come together to shape how we achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty. It is a real opportunity to get global backing for Energy for All by 2030.
The last day of my challenge is on Tuesday 19th June…on Rio+20 Energy Day – a high-level dialogue on energy issues. On the same day it’s Rio + Social – a global gathering that gives a voice to people who want to change the world for the better. The event will be broadcast live here: http://rioplussocial.com.br/en/ and people can join through social media channels. I’ll be using this opportunity to get my voice heard on behalf of millions of others who don’t have access to energy and can’t join in the conversation because they don’t have access to the internet and social media channels.
Follow my blog and find out how I get on without energy for a week. And I challenge anybody else reading this to try going without energy, maybe not for a week, but how about for one day? Just 24 hours with cold showers, non-perishable food and cycling. If you take up my challenge, let me know how you get on by commenting below.2 Comments » | Add your comment