Blogs tagged as schools

  • Pick up ideas at an ASE Teachmeet

    May 13th, 2013

    I recently attended an ASE Teachmeet at the Think Tank .  It got me thinking, where else would you find out how to:

    • teachersfind an interactive periodic table from the  Royal Society of Chemistry
    • Paint a huge diagram of a heart on a big sheet to use as a teaching aid
    • make a small revision book out of a piece of paper
    • join a network that review research in education methodologies, @bio_joe
    • run a floating garden challenge to teach science in a global context
    • use ipads to provide interesting learning experiences @syded06
    • connect with STEM ambassadors
    • Get support on teaching microbiology using UV light

    …all in a couple of hours?

    Teachmeets are great, informal occasion where you can meet like-minded enthusiastic teachers and pick up great ideas to integrate into your teaching .   You also get a nice up of tea and chocolate biscuits  :-). They occur in 12 different regions around the country. To find the one closest to you go the ASE website or contact your local ASE field officer.  For the West Midlands Teachmeet contact Gaynor Sharp .

    Follow #tmase to keep in touch  🙂

    Heart painted on large sheet to be used as a teaching aid

    Heart painted on large sheet to be used as a teaching aid


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  • David Cameron talks to students about Practical Action project

    Students show David Cameron their ideas of how science and technology can be used to improve lives of the poor at the Big Bang Fair 2013

    David Cameron talks to students about Practical Action project

    David Cameron talks to students about their Practical Action  CREST project

    Students at Ursuline Academy had an experience of a lifetime at the Big Bang fair in March. The Science Angels were one of just two teams interviewed by David Cameron when he visited the Big Bang Fair.  In his speech  captured in the video clip below the Prime Minister  said that ‘ it is important that students make that connection between what they study in the classroom and real lives…the problem you want to solve in the developing world’.

    Watch David Cameron at The Big Bang Fair 2013.

    I joined the students on the second day of the fair where they won and the UKFT Textile edge prize and another group of students from the same school  won the Shell Prize for sustainability  in the National Science and Engineering competition. They were presented with their prestigious awards from the Big Bang at the Award ceremony.  Both groups were also proud to achieve their silver CREST awards.

    Both teams used Practical Action’s Global CREST challenges materials as inspiration for their projects.  The material provides students with support in using real life problems in the developing world to work on for  their CREST awards . It gives students starting points for projects and links to Practical Action’s technical briefs as support material.  The Sustainables were looking at materials suitable for housing in Bangladesh whilst the Science Angels focused on solutions to help grow crops in Kenya.

    As well as an amazing achievement for Ursuline Academy I think it is great recognition of Practical Action’s Global CREST challenges which were launched just over a year ago.

    The Sustainables, winners fo the UKFT Textiles Edge prize  proudly showing their CREST silver certificates

    The Sustainables, winners of the UKFT Textiles Edge prize proudly showing their CREST silver certificates


    The Science Angels, Ursuline Academy, winners of the Shell award for Sustainability

    The Science Angels, Ursuline Academy, winners of the Shell award for Sustainability

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  • Just back from the Geography Association Conference…

    April 8th, 2013

    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.

    GA conf 2013 001


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  • #ASEconf13…the place to be

    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!!

    Julei Brown from Practical Action with Ricky from Millgate HouseRenewing 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.

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  • A new challenge!

    If you are a teacher and have used any of our STEM challenges before we are sure you will love  our new one……The Floating Garden Challenge  designed for ages 7-19.

    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.

    Go to 

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  • We got the GOLD!!

    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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  • Our survey said…

    Teachers who use Practical Action's Resources

    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.

    …for example

    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.

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  • ‘Everyone is wearing them!!’

    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…, 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 homepage

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  • Global skills essential for a global economy

    ¾ of businesses think we are in danger of being left behind by emerging countries unless young people learn to think more globally

    That was one of the main findings of The Global Skills Gap, a report  by the British Council and Think global in December last year.  The report also found that 93% of businesses think it is important for schools to help young people develop the ability to think globally.

     Practical Action’s education work supports that need for students to be more globally aware and able to identify with global issues.  Our activities promote awareness and understanding of issues such as climate change , the importance of energy access,  and technology justice (Where technology is used for the benefit of all, ensuring poor people have simple, affordable and sustainable technology to improve their lives)

    Students whose education has included a good global perspective have already been shown to go onto lead more sustainable lifestyles  and are more likely to be supportive of the work we and likeminded organisations do.  The fact that this report shows they are also potentially more employable adds weight to the value of our work to the students themselves and to society as a whole.

    ‘’what global companies look for are people who we think can take a global perspective.  Students are well placed to do this if they have opportunities to widen their cultural perspective’’

    Sonja Stockton, Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers



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  • Putting the global into science

    We are attending two great science conferences early next year

    The ASE conference is an annual must for all science teachers interested in finding out what the latest science resources available are for keeping up to date on current policy and practice.  On 5-7th January we will be there to show teachers the great resources we produce and how they can enhance their science teaching.  If you are attending do please come and see us, we’d love to find out what you like about our work and what else you’d like us to produce,  go to

    Then on 25th February if’s off to the ‘What is science for? ’ conference in Widnes , which will focus on the importance of global issues in science teaching. Sessions will include:

    • Andrew Hunt – Making sense of our global interdependence through science
    • Prof Malcolm Dando – Bioethics and biological weapons
    • Eric Fewster – Science and engineering for relief and development
    • Prof Justin Dillon – “Doing” science versus “Being” a scientist: Making sense of young people’s aspirations and attitudes to science
    • Prof Justin Dillon (Workshop) – Climate change education within the new National Curriculum: threats and opportunities for teachers and students.

    To book for this conference please go to


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