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Creative Technology in Education

As a co-founder of the Foundation for Digital Creativity and from your experience in the tech and education sectors, what would you say is the biggest challenge?

Getting involved with the research team at Leeds University reaffirmed my own thoughts about the challenges and conflict schools face today, as we published a paper which examined the inclusion of digital making in the formal curriculum. Maker education is difficult to integrate alongside curriculum change and funding constraints, when teachers need time and investment to develop themselves; let alone the resources needed for further project-based learning.

Increasing community participation brings about other challenges. We’re trying to remove barriers, by linking with partners and other networks, to challenge misconceptions or trepidation about prior knowledge or skills needed to have a go at making something with a digital element. That sees our development focused on offering fun and accessible workshops with an emphasis on purpose and solving real-world problems.

You’ve been using the Bare Conductive technology quite a lot in your projects. How did you find out about our products?

Kickstarter! Excitement about possibilities with Electric Paint and Touch Board drove me to back those projects and share with teachers to support our own educational initiatives, such as ‘Research and Play’ for the development of MakerEd with teachers in Salford and Hull.

Why are the Touch Board and Electric Paint good workshop tools? What are the problems they help you solve?

I tend to incorporate Electric Paint into sessions to explain circuits as a building block to more complex digital making projects, and also to include the Bare Conductive story as an aspirational piece to encourage young makers as they develop their own creative and innovative potential. The Foundation has recently supported The Ada Show with their STEAM workshop programme to inspire the next generation of makers, and Electric Paint definitely featured in the ‘Inventions of the Future’ activity to create dynamic circuits and facilitate ‘lightbulb moments’.

On the building block theme, Touch Boards have been a fantastic resource to extend the range of project-based learning activities and collaborations through enrichment challenges at school clubs. Teachers also made use of the boards to explore opportunities to develop computational thinking skills through the Research and Play programme of professional development.

Check out the project with Electric Paint and Makey Makey.

What other teacher recommendations emerged from Research and Play?

For those schools considering or starting a makerspace in their own school, Electric Paint and LEDs are great starter resources alongside other favourites like Lego and lolly sticks.

Team challenges using MakerEd approaches are also a great way to engage students and increase STEM skills through a real-world problem. Here’s a fantastic example of the children leading the maker space at St Mark’s Primary in Salford, as they explain their competition winning Rube Goldberg contraption to peers. They demonstrated improvements in their project through iterative design and student-directed learning so well.

 

What’s in the pipeline for you? Any upcoming exciting projects?

The Foundation is extending the range of workshops offered through ‘The Internet of Curious Things’ programme and we’re excited to be adding new sensors to ignite more community-led innovations. I’ll be sharing successes and inventions at The Things Network conference in February, when I talk about removing barriers and empowering more communities to make a smarter and more connected world.

And not forgetting the Big Party Weekend in March. As we continue to learn from each other at Leeds Raspberry Jam, we’re getting ready to celebrate Raspberry Pi’s 6th birthday with an extra special Saturday event.

Author: Claire Garside

Images & Video: Claire Garside & Bloody Nora DJ

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