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What we have done in the past

Here are some examples of projects that the WMG Outreach team has supported in the past.

Computing in Schools

WMG is part of a local collaboration to improve and support the teaching of computer science in schools.

Staff from Coventry and Warwick universities, education authorities and secondary schools, along with the British Computer Society and the Institution of Engineering and Technology are working together to support computer science education.

This collaboration has led to the formation of a Coventry and Warwickshire ‘hub’ for the national Computing At School organisation (CAS), set up by a group of experts concerned about falling standards.

The key aim of CAS is to support teachers directly. One way to do this is to provide local forums where staff can share ideas, meet in a relaxed atmosphere, receive training and materials and link up with representatives from academia and industry. Each meeting aims to give teachers at least one potential lesson to use back in their classrooms.

CAS wants to see the development of better GCSEs, an increase in A-level students and a reverse in the decline in number applying to do computing at university.

Engaging Young Learners in CAD and 3D Printing

In 2015 and 2016, WMG and the School of Engineering ran a project which aimed to share the University’s expertise in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D printing with local young people aged 11-14 to help them and their teachers, learn about design software and how to use it effectively for 3D Printing.

This project built on the work of the University of Warwick project Engaging Young People with Assistive Technologies, which worked with young people with disabilities to explore how CAD and 3D printing could help them.

The project work has continued as part of the University's STEM outreach programme with many CAD and 3D printing workshops for school pupils taking place each year both at the University and in schools.

During the project, the school pupils learned to use a free download CAD software called Autodesk 123D Design. A range of tutorials were developed for this purpose, using an approach of learning CAD by actually designing and 3D printing a range of products of increasing complexity to gradually build skills in an engaging context. The tutorials have been freely available here and have been extremely popular.

In April 2017, Autodesk withdrew 123D Design. Our 123D tutorials are still available for use for those who already have the software. However, Autodesk Fusion 360, a much more powerful professional CAD package, can be downloaded free of charge by students, educators and start-ups/enthusiasts. For younger pupils, Autodesk Tinkercad is ideal and is available free to use in a web browser (Chrome or Edge work best).

WMG Outreach now has a range of beginner tutorials for Fusion 360 here and more tutorials will be added over time. For those who have previously used the 123D Design tutorials, you will see that a number of the Fusion tutorials are for the same products, to help you compare the 123D method to the Fusion method. More Teacher Notes and ideas for use of Fusion 360 will be added in due course, particular to help with the new UK Design & Technology school curriculum/coursework.

Imagineering

The Outreach team worked with colleagues from across the University to showcase a series of fascinating engineering projects at the Imagineering Fair in Coventry.

These included Warwick Mobile Robotics and the two rescue robots, the Warwick Sub team with their human powered submarine, and Engineering Without Borders’ human powered smoothie-maker.

The event is aimed at inspiring young engineers. Visitors learn about the importance of modern engineering in everyday life and have the opportunity to meet successful real-life young engineers.

Mozfest

At Mozfest 2016, with the help of the Technology Volunteers, the WMG team ran a Tiles for Tales workshop within the Youth Zone

The Tiles for Tales project links the craft of story telling with collaborative physical computing activities providing a simple introduction to circuits and control in a creative setting. Participants created tiles from felt, cardboard, LEDs and a Wi-Fi control board. Each tile represents a character or scene and can then be programmed using Scratch to activate the LEDs.

The Warwick Technology Volunteers ran a workshop at Mozilla Festival 2014. MozFest is a hands-on festival dedicated to forging the future of an open online community. The festival is packed with passionate technologists and creators eager to share their skills, ideas, demos and hacks - bringing pragmatic approaches to solving real problems and creating new collaborations.

The Technology Volunteers delivered a 'Sensing our World' workshop to introduce volunteers, educators and students to the MIT Scratch programming language and demonstrating how sensors can be used to interface with the world. It was a great opportunity to spread the Volunteers' enthusiasm and ideas and promoting their work with young people in the local area.

The session proved incredibly popular and gave participants the opportunity to play with lots of different sensors and a Picoboard - a piece of hardware which allows Scratch projects to interact with the outside world. The session's popularity even led to it being featured as part of the BBC's blog piece about the Festival.

MozFest 2014 was a great success for the Technology Volunteers. Participants left with positive feedback - many of these were teachers and students who could take away their learning to directly replicate the workshop activities in their school using the free resources available online.

Technology Volunteers

Technology Volunteers, an offshoot of the successful Warwick Volunteers programme, is a group of students and staff from the University of Warwick (including WMG). The aim of the group is to encourage children to become creators rather than consumers of technology. The Volunteers offer support to local schools by assisting with technology-based projects and activities during lessons and after-school clubs.

Royal Institution Masterclasses

Local schools were invited (by WMG and the School of Engineering) to nominate two year 9 pupils to attend the Saturday morning Royal Institution Engineering Masterclasses at WMG in the 2018 spring term.

The aim was to open the eyes of young people to the excitement, beauty and value of engineering, and in turn, inspire the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Each masterclass focused on an aspect of modern engineering and was presented by an engineer actively involved in research or working in industry.

These are the five sessions that were presented:

  • Software and Control: Margaret Low (WMG)
  • Will 3D printing turn you into a designer?: Simon Leigh (School of Engineering)
  • The Power of Process: Mairi Macintyre (WMG)
  • Crash Structures from Recycled Materials: Peter Wilson (WMG)
  • Autonomous Vehicles - a taste of things to come: Valentina Donzella (WMG)
Scratching the surface

In August (2016), Margaret Low, along with students from Technology Volunteers and collaborators, presented their outreach activities at the Scratch@MIT event at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, USA.

The Technology Volunteers ran a special Science from Scratch workshop using a series of worksheets developed by the team. The workshop linked physical computing activities to a number of scientific experiments.

At the conference, the Technology Volunteers shared their new interactive circuit board, ExperiSense. ExperiSense was designed and built as a low cost interface between Scratch and Arduino with enhanced sensing capabilities. Former University of Warwick student, Stephen Pithouse designed the board while other members of the team built the interface to Scratch and Arduino. This board generated a great deal of interest with participants able to see first-hand it’s capabilities, and the team received many requests to purchase one for use in schools.

During the poster session, Margaret Low also shared the results of the Tiles for Tales project in which groups of children created an interactive 'tile' controlled wirelessly. Through Scratch multiple tiles can be created and controlled at the same time, making it an unusual and interactive group project. Tiles for Tales gives an introduction to creating circuits without the need for soldering, or the use of breadboards, and uses inexpensive materials only.

The conference was a valuable opportunity to share experiences and to see how others teach Scratch and physical computing activities. It also gave the WMG team an insight into how young children learn.

Finally, it was also an opportunity to reflect on the life of Professor Seymour Papert, who passed away in July 2016. His insightful research into the use of technology for creative learning laid the foundations for learning through play, and he is widely recognised as the father of Logo and the grandfather of Scratch.

Scratch Day 2016

In May 2016, Margaret Low and the Technology Volunteers organised a special ‘Sensing Our World’ event in Coventry Fablab, Coventry City Arcade to celebrate International Scratch Day.

At the event families were given a fun introduction to software development and unusual interfaces using Scratch. There was also the opportunity to share creations with fellow coders.

Scratch Day is a global network of events that celebrate ‘scratch’ computer programming, and the young people who use it to code and create. During Scratch Day, people gather to share projects, and this year more than 650 communities across the world took part.

Cheltenham Science Festival

WMG staff worked alongside colleagues from the School of Engineering to take part in the Science Festival. The team ran a number of events in the special Warwick ‘What If? Marquee, including hands on activities, meet the expert sessions and special school workshops on a variety of topics.

Experts from the Experiential Engineering team delivered a hands-on exploration of “The Power the Sun can Provide” and The Cyber Security team presented a series of special seminars including ‘What If…Robots are our Future Team.”

There was also a range of 3D printing activities and a rescue robot demonstration