Walworth Academy has undertaken Dell’s Powering Transformation Challenge, which sees Dell lending technology to students for one week.
The challenge is a free activity developed by the Transformation Trust and is designed to allow students to solve issues in their communities. Students are given one week to identify issues in their local community and teams then use the technology to show one representation of how they see their community now and one of how they would like their community to be.
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Students have the chance to win several prizes, including Dell tablets and a trip to the Royal Institution in London.
Dell and the Transformation Trust have offered the challenge to twelve secondary schools.
During the challenge at Walworth Academy one team looked into how much it costs the school to buy new textbooks annually. The group proposed the idea of replacing books with graphic tablets to save money and paper, and enable students to have a complete library at their fingertips.
Another team looked into the lack of women in ICT and engineering jobs, noting the school has more boys and girls. It used tablets to video classes where gender is equally balanced, such as in history and art lessons, and compared the results to subjects that have less females present, such as IT.
Another project, Trash2Cash, rewarded people for disposing rubbish, and another reminded pupils when there detention is due using Detention App. The app is also designed to improve behaviour and acts as a deterrent by sending automated texts to parents informing them of their child’s detention.
Amy Leonard, chief executive of Transformation Trust, said: “We are delighted to offer schools the opportunity to take part in Powering Transformation, thanks to the support of Dell. As an educational charity, we aim to offer schools inspiring opportunities that will help young people realise their potential and understand the important contribution they can make to their communities.
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“This initiative helps students improve their technological literacy, as well as developing key skills in critical thinking, creativity and teamwork which will help them in later life.”
Emmanuel Solate, head of department of Computing and ICT at Walworth Academy, said: “We chose to take part in Powering Transformation to give our students the opportunity to be exposed to technology and allow them to use technology outside the classroom. The project extends the students horizon to the use of technology in the community and allows them to see a practical use of it as opposed to just the theoretical aspects that we cover in lessons.
“We were particularly drawn to the involvement of Dell because they are a well-known company that students relate to. Students can then see the relevance of the industry in their role as students and what they are learning in school. The prizes for the programme were also a big draw for us to do the programme.”
Kamal Patel, NQT teacher of computing at Walworth Academy, said: “It’s been interesting to see the students working together in teams. They have learnt to work in a team environment which they will experience when they leave school. Students have been very engaged in the programme. The students have been able to assign roles in their groups and been able to learn which skills match each role. The students have organised themselves into teams.
“They have experienced doing a real IT project and learnt technical skills along the way. They have discovered there is more than one way to do something and been able to think outside the box. The project has links with the curriculum and we have been able to build it in to what the students are learning. The students have improved their digital literacy skills significantly.”
Dana, a 14-year-old student, said: “I have enjoyed taking part in Powering Transformation, especially being able to do our own project. I am the project manager for our group and I am enjoying telling people what to do. There are six people in our team. We have been looking at the issue of air pollution. We have been using the technology to survey students to find out how they get to school and trying to persuade them to walk instead. Using the data we have created graphs.
“We have tried to make our project humorous by creating a rap, using music apps on the touchscreen laptops. We have also been using the tablets to take pictures and record interviews. Taking part in Powering Transformation has made ICT more exciting and allowed me to recognise that it is important to have good ICT schools for when I leave school.”
Ahmed, a year nine student, said: “Powering Transformation is an enriching programme and I have learnt a lot.
“I have got to grips with the tablets and furthered my knowledge. I have enjoyed the project in every way. It was been very interesting and informative. I have learnt lots of things I did not know prior to taking part."