BASED ON PRACTICAL ACTION’S WORK
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.
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 developing world.
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. Go to the CREST website www.britishscienceassociation.org/ 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. t
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 general findings.
Tree of Life seedlings, Sudan
Communication projects involve 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 their communication, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?