Second training in Manchester

Second training in Manchester

From14th of October to 16th of October took place in Warrington the second training activity of the ESW project. Twelve staff members from the partner organisations visited UTC Warrington for the second time with the aim of receving a specific training on PBL activities. The 3 days intensive programme was succesfully delivered by UTCW staff.

During the first day of the activities, UTCW staff provided an overview of PBL which can be considered a method to “keep students away from the normal classroom”. PBL is an approach that emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary, and student-centred.

UTCW staff clearly pointed out that it is not easy to apply this model and you cannot give for granted the engagement of the students during the activities. It’s important to put PBL into specific context for the students and to explain what’s in for them. With PBL it’s important to make clear to the students why they are learning it !

The secret is to empower students to do something and change the academic environment. Students that struggle in the academic environment with PBL can achieve good results.

The key principles that UTCW apply in order to involve the students in the PBL are the following:

  • Using real-word learning experience. The challenge needs to be an authentic project, moreover if the context/challenge are found outside the school it will appear more real
  • Projects should emerge from needs in the community or home; they arise from social issues, or perhaps physical, emotional, or recreational needs – Some can be linked with industry or business activities.

At the same time roles in the class are flipped. Teachers do not lead anymore, but the students lead and they work in small groups with their pairs. The teachers become just facilitators.

It’s important to understand that PBL is not about making things easy for the students, but make them difficult because the word of work will be difficult and challenging and complex. The point is to get students outside their comfort zone.

After a clear presentation about ‘Why should schools do?”; and “What are the benefits?”;, the partners received an overview of how to design a curriculum with PBL. The most important part was to observe PBL in practice and how is delivered at UTCW. During the following days partners had the opportunity to attend several PBL activities.

These activities were part of a 2 days programme addressed to the students of the 1st year:

  • the first day aimed at providing the students with an overview of the working opportunities in the sector of CODING and to raise students interest in this subject
  • the second day was focused on creative careers, namely careers in media and music sector

These are some of the projects that the staff had the chance to look closely:

This workshop was aimed to Code-A-Sphero with the final aim of teaching students the power of coding. Students designed and built a Sphero using LEGO, then learn how to code a mini Sphero to move (roll), change direction (spin) and alter its colour.
This workshop aimed at using mini-drones to demonstrate the power of coding in a fun, creative and safe environment for students. It was a great way for students to learn basic knowledge about computing skills. The session wants to inspire students about coding.
The project consists of creating and testing a rocket using a plastic bottle. The rocket was then tested by using a manual pump.

A workshop aimed at teaching techniques to effectively use a green-screen to take a photo and create cards.

This workshop gave the students a taste of digital music. They were able to create their own digital music applying strings of bloc codes. Partners had also the chance to see PBL activities for last year students.

The activity was called REMOTE OPERATION and was a PBL project lasting 1 full day. This was a cross-curricular activity which brought science, design and technology, engineering and maths (STEM) together in an engaging way. Students had to work in teams to design and 3 make a prototype device that can simulate a heart and kidney transplant, but must be operated remotely.

Finally, the last day the partners had the chance to visit a different UTC called UTC@MediaCityUK, an innovative school based in the heart of MediaCityUK in Manchester. Ths school focus is ensuring the future employability of its students in the creative and technical digital industry.