BASED ON PRACTICAL ACTION’S WORK
These resources are designed to help teachers and students undertake CREST awards that relate to the
work of Practical Action, a UK-based charity that uses engineering solutions to help communities in the
Practical Action works with poor people in local
communities, helping them develop solutions to
the problems they face. This work affects every
aspect of people’s lives and their potential to
generate an income.
Practical Action’s work was started by
E F Schumacher, the economist who wrote
the book ‘Small is Beautiful’. According to the
Times Literary Supplement, this book is one of
the 100 most influential books published since
World War II. It sets out a different approach to
the world, where technology works for everyone,
and makes local communities work together.
Local organisations meet local needs, and this
(to Schumacher) was the way the world should
work. With a group of friends and colleagues,
he established the Intermediate Technology
Development Group in 1966. This organisation
later became Practical Action.
Wind turbine, Nepal
All the evidence from various surveys, by a range of organisations,
suggests that young people, parents and teachers want global
thinking to be a greater part of what is taught in schools.
Schumacher’s ideas, and Practical Action’s work, are a wonderful
basis for this. Global thinking and global citizenship are rarely
seen as part of science learning, and yet the development of
simple, new technologies used by communities in the developing
world will require sound scientific and technological basis. Climate
change and its effects make this challenge all the more urgent.
E F Schumacher
The following will help when embarking on a
Global CREST project:
t Go to www.practicalaction.org/CREST and
look at the resources available for each of the
project areas – water, food, energy, transport
and shelter. They include suggestions
for projects and links to information that
students can use to start their research.
t Go to the CREST website
web/ccaf/CREST to find out more
about how the awards work and get
in touch with your local CREST
co-ordinator by following the link on
the right hand side of the page. Your
CREST co-ordinator will help you
decide whether your project briefs
are at an appropriate level for your
students, can guide you through
the registration process, and offer
support through to assessment.
They will also be able to put you in
touch with local organisations that
can support you and find mentors to
work with your students.
Tree of Life seedlings, Sudan
Investigation projects are simply
practical investigations. These
project ideas suggest questions to
answers. Assessing the students’
project methods, and the way
they designed the project, is
a key part of the assessment
process for a CREST award,
so we don’t specify this here.
Students need to demonstrate
the creativity to get around
problems in their investigation,
and the ability to make the leap
from their investigation to more
students gaining an
understanding of a
Each project idea has a number of letters
scientific topic and
after it. These letters indicate the types of
a specific audience
project that might come from it, as follows:
group, and then
designing a way to
R = Research (paper-based)
communicate the topic
DM = Design and make
to their audience. They
also need to measure
I = Investigation (practical activity)
the effectiveness of
C = Communication of ideas
perhaps by using
a questionnaire to
Research projects involve shaping a
measure how the
question or hypothesis, and looking
activity has changed the audience’s attitudes to, and
for evidence to answer the question or demonstrate
perceptions of, a topic.
the hypothesis. In academic terms, this would be
review research, perhaps looking for the outcomes
These resources will help you as teachers build science
of environmental research across the world, and
challenges around international development issues, and
synthesising it into general lessons. Many of the ideas
will show your students what science and engineering can
we’ve suggested here look at solutions to problems across
do to support communities in the developing world.
the world, and examine whether there are general lessons
this can give us.
We hope you enjoy taking part in our global CREST
challenges and we’d be delighted to hear your feedback
Design and make projects involve selecting a design
and suggestions for anything else you would like to see.
challenge, understanding the requirements for the
Just email email@example.com
solution, then designing and making it. Both the design
and make components are crucial, and it’s important
that several design ideas are considered. How those
decisions were taken should be included in the summary
of the project.
What type of project?