31 July, 2016
We have enjoyed our partnership with Sophianum School in south-east Holland, which started in 2015 with a visit from the school’s teachers to discuss our initial ideas for their Technasium projects. While we have used challenge-based learning with the University Technical College in Cambridge in the past this was the first time we have developed projects based on research and design, and certainly our first time working with a Dutch school.
We chose the initial theme for our projects because the Babraham Institute is committed to being open and transparent about how and why we use animals in our scientific research. The two design challenges were identified in collaboration with the technicians in our small animal facility. Solutions would give our animal technicians new ways of working.
We visited the school (in Gulpen) in May to meet the students and launch the projects - they have great facilities in the school and thankfully everybody speaks very good English! We also visited a couple of local museums which have well-developed outreach sections for visiting schools. The students formed themselves into teams and worked on the projects for eight weeks. We had regular Skype calls to the school to answer questions and the students posted YouTube videos of their progress and of their final solutions. We viewed all the videos and sent our comments back to the school to help them choose the winners. All the videos were very well made, and some of the ideas were very interesting - you can see three of them on our News page.
It was then great to host the visit by the winning students, who were very nervous about presenting in a foreign language but did a very good job. They had even brought prototypes of the of the winning ideas. The visiting students also enjoyed a visit to the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge as well as a tour of the new conferencing building on the Babraham Research Campus. We are already making plans for new projects in 2017 and look forward to a return to Gulpen to launch them.
31 July 2016
By Michael Hinton