Schools | Blogs

  • Practical Action on Jersey ITV news


    Jersey, St Lawrence | November 16th, 2018

    When your job is writing materials to engage the next generation in Practical Action’s work there is nothing more satisfying when you see that in action!

    Last month I went to Jersey with my colleague Bren Hellier. Following on from a week of activities with primary pupils run by The Jersey Museum which focused on our Ditch the Dirt challenge, we delivered workshops with Jersey Overseas Aid to over 100 secondary students over three days.

    stop the spread

    ”We could be engineers!!”

    Minister for International Development Jersey working with pupils on Practical Action's Stop the Spread challenge

    Carolyn Labey, Minister for International Development Jersey working with pupils on Practical Action’s Stop the Spread challenge

    The secondary students soon got to grips with our Stop the Spread challenge which highlights the global issue around the spread of infectious disease and includes activities where children design and build their own hand washing station, plus produce education materials for primary age pupils in a school in Ethiopia. They came up with all sorts of ingenious solutions and really understood the importance of the work our two organisations and others are doing to address this.

    The workshops caused quite a stir on the island and we were featured on Jersey ITV news , in the local press and on the radio!  We also had a visit from Carolyn Labey, Jersey’s Minister for International Development who got stuck into the activity and told the students about her role on the island.

    Some of the comments from the pupils included

    ‘I learnt that water is a vital part of being healthy’
    Finlay

    ‘I really enjoyed developing problem-solving skills…using what I had learnt in science in a real like situation and learning about Ethiopia and the UN global goals’
    Hugo

     ‘I like doing this because it get everyone involved and makes sure everyone’s voice is heard’
    Joss

    ‘I had heard of JOA and what they did but didn’t realise it was on such a bit scale’
    Jessica

    The materials pupils were using during the two weeks had been adapted for Jersey and included reference to Jersey’s own issues with the spread of cholera in the past. These materials can be found at www. joa.je/schools

    What’s next?

    We’re running a competition open to all pupils in Jersey. They are asked to send in a short video showing how they have worked in the challenge, including a demonstration of their model in action. Entries will be judged by JOA and Practical Action and the deadline is 11 March 2019.  If what I saw was anything to go by the quality will fantastic. More details here.

    Following a meeting with the Jersey Government’s Head of Curriculum we’re hopeful that it won’t be long before many teachers in Jersey will be using our materials in their own teaching, embedding them in their schools’ curriculum.

     

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Don’t squash the tomatoes!! #INWED18 at Birmingham City University with Practical Action


    June 29th, 2018

    It was a day of learning new skills, problem solving, developing understanding of global issues, breaking down stereotypes and a lot of fun at Birmingham City University last Friday. All in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day #INWED18

    80 girls aged 12-16 years from 5 different schools took part in our Squashed Tomato Challenge, designing, building and testing a model of a system to move tomatoes down a mountainside…which in the real world would enable famers to transport tomatoes to market.
    They had mentors from local industry working with them, fantastic female role models from BWB consulting, Arup and others.
    Both teachers and pupils were full of enthusiasm for the day, and the opportunity it gave the girls to work together and find their own solution to a problem faced by a community in the developing world.

    The impact the day had on the girls can be seen in their own reflections…

    SONY DSC

    ’Engineering is not as boring as I thought it was…it helps people around the world’

    Kitty, aged 13, Tudor Grange

    When you think of engineering you think of things like cars, but from today I know there are more parts to engineering, like using it to help people…and not only men can be engineers but women too.’
    Caitlin, aged 12 , Tudor Grange

    ‘I really liked it today as it has made me feel I can do something to help other people. I am disabled so I understand how some people need more help than others. It  made me want to give donations, and to tell people not to feel sad because there are solutions’
    Payal, age 16, Mosley Park

     Teachers at the event told me they were keen to get back into school and do this challenge (and others) with their other pupils
    ‘I think this is fantastic. It’s a practical application and really easy to run. Great that it is set in a real world context that the kids can relate to. I’m thinking we could use it for a CREST award’

    Hannah Grey
    Assistant Head Teacher
    Langley School

     

     

    If you would like to do any of our STEM challenges and maybe use them to enable your pupils to gain a CREST award go to www.practicalaction.org/STEM. To download for free. All challenges are designed to fit the UK science curriculum and come with teacher’s notes, pupil worksheets. PPT, poster and certificates.

     

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • 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

    2 Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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.

     

     

     

     

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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

     

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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!

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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.

     

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • 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.

     

    1 Comment » | Add your comment