The following post features in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of #TheFeed, our online magazine bringing you the best stories from Microsoft Showcase Schools and #MIEExperts, thought leadership, and news from the Microsoft in Education team. This piece is written by Graeme Lawrie, Director of Innovation and Outreach at Sevenoaks School, and explores the digital initiative iDEA, which is a national project that hosts a series of online challenges and events allowing the users to win career enhancing badges, unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, gain nationally recognised awards.
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MIEE Report: It starts with an iDEA
Sevenoaks School takes a proactive approach in providing ancillary and educational activities for the benefit of the community. After 9 years of offering a STEM week of activities, free of charge, with audiences of up to 15,000 local school children and adults Sevenoaks were looking to broaden their outreach efforts. Enter MIE-Expert Graeme Lawrie. Graeme Lawrie is the Director of Innovation and Outreach at Sevenoaks School and his background is in Design and Technology, specialising in computer based teaching through advanced electronics, programming, robotics and computer aided design and manufacture.
Graeme is also a Microsoft Innovative Expert and Surface Expert. As Director of Outreach, in 2014/2015 when the new computing National Curriculum was launched to schools, Sevenoaks were on hand to provide resources, training and support for schools that were not as comfortable in offering new content/ resources at the pace and time scales required (a welcomed helping hand). Combined with the ‘Director of Innovation’ role, Graeme found that they could also share research of emerging technologies with schools, advising teachers on technologies and procedures and predicting the future of tech. In 2015 Graeme Lawrie was incredibly fortunate to be selected by HRH The Duke of York and was asked to take on a secondment at Buckingham Palace working on the digital initiative www.idea.org.uk, which is a national project that hosts a series of online challenges and events allowing the users to win career enhancing badges, unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, gain nationally recognised awards.
“On the 12th December 2016 Sevenoaks School hosted an event for a local primary school alongside Microsoft and iDEA thanks to the amazing support of the UK education team and the Palace staff. We hosted 50 year 6 children for the entire day and offered them a carousel of Electronics, breadboarding and Arduino programming, followed by Computer Aided Design and Manufacture (Making Xmas decorations on the laser cutter) and after a full Xmas lunch we moved onto the ‘Hour of Code’ with students learning how to code ‘Minecraft’ at www.code.org and we finished the day with a session on advanced, emerging technologies. This last session was very special indeed as we were not only able to let the children have a go at virtual reality with the Vive headsets, but we had sourced 2 of the new Hololens Augmented reality devices. It was not long before students were flying around the globe, exploring Peru and Rome in an augmented simulator, following dinosaurs and doing treasure hunts for hidden holograms around the department. Each and every student left with 20 points towards the iDEA award scheme.
These sessions are incredibly powerful for visiting schools as we have dedicated, subject specific teachers, who are happy to cover any element of the computing curriculum, alongside some of the latest technologies and equipment. To enable more schools to get involved we have produced ‘Outreach’ boxes or ‘Lessons in a box’ which we send out to interested schools on free loan. These packs contain class sets of devices like BBC micro:bits or Arduino and we supply them with lesson plans and links to online resources such as the Microsoft Touch develop site, or the iDEA initiative.
We have plans to purchase a double decker bus in the new year, equip it with technology and create a mobile outreach resource, to enable us to offer this service to those that cannot travel to us. Looking to 2018 and beyond, the new Science and Technology Centre at Sevenoaks School will allow us to provide even more cutting-edge activities and understanding of opportunities available in the contemporary STEM workplace. Through our outreach programme we hope to inspire and engage next generations of young people from primary and secondary schools in the surrounding communities and beyond. If anyone is looking for an avenue to assist with digital skills in schools, to reach the front line of education, then please do get in touch with Graeme Lawrie at Sevenoaks School.”
Follow Graeme Lawrie on Twitter – @SevenoaksSchool
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