Clár Innovation Include Labs - Tech Tasters 1
Workshop kit for 7 days
In June 2022, over 7 days, between the 14th and 25th June, we undertook a series of
workshops with Maine Valley Family Resource Centre and young people from St Joeseph's National School, Firies National School, Happy Valley after-school and youth group, and the emergent Teen Tech group. This formed part of a STEAM engagement series to develop technology production skills, through creative exploration based on our evidence-based programmes that have been developed over 4 years of research with close to 1400 young people (4-8 years).
The programme's engagement approach follows Professor Laura Lundy's model that provides a way of conceptualising a child's right to participation, as laid down in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In phase 1 we offered introductions to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D printing, Circuits and wearables, Green Screen and creating Avatars, over seven workshops with over 143 young people ages (3 - 14 years). As we also work with inclusive design aspects we also use low-tech activities to engage young people as well as the technological aspects, giving them a more rounded experience. This also supports young people to transition from consumption of media and technology to production. For younger children, the learning element was adapted to an age-appropriate level, with the very young attendants exploring the materials and their own creativity.
Space – Safe and inclusive opportunities to form and express their views
The project engaged with a broad age range of children to gather an understanding of needs and wants in relation to the Tech Tasters programme, designed to gather a representative response from within the Maine Valley Family Resources centres remit and catchment. This included collaboration with physical spaces and organisations that the children / young people are familiar with and comfortable in and would feel safe to express their views e.g. school settings, community centres and after-school clubs.
The feedback process was designed to gather their responses to both the content of the sessions and based on their knowledge and experience, insights for future delivery, using an adapted process from Dr McKeown’s research practice and anonymous responses. It is envisaged that this would evolve with an older and more consistent group of participants in the long-term and be developed in phase 2.
Voice – facilitated to express their views
The method used to gather the participant’s voice is an adaptation of a rapid response approach – 3,2,1, which has been used with other methods within prior research. This allows for anonymous self-expression including critique which is important to allow for uncensored responses. In this instance, two questions were posed. Some of the participants attended multiple sessions so had an understanding of multiple technologies.
1. Did you like / enjoy the session, if yes, why if no why –how we could make it better?
2. What they would like to do more of if there was a more regular or consistent session e.g. weekly
The older students, were also asked to report one thing they feel they learnt. This ranged from the conscious acknowledgement of what they did, with higher-order reflections on what it meant to them. They also, expanded upon what they wanted both in terms of the technology sessions in the future as well as what they wanted to get from it.
Audience – their views must be listened to
Their responses summarised below
They liked / loved it
They do want to do more and based on the responses and budget this can be tailored to
meet their needs
The want more knowledge about technology (older students)
They enjoyed making what they want – rather than prescribed end goals
They learnt its ok to be unique / different
They learnt that creativity is fun
It should be noted that these responses sit within a context of post covid-19 restrictions which could have import for the reasons underpinning these responses. The participants have had little to no creative activities / access to materials, no paired / group work due to the school pod system and minimal social interaction. All of which could influence the responses beyond their experience of the workshop contents.
Influence – views acted upon as appropriate
Based on the initial responses and the facilitators' feedback a consistent programme starting Sept–Dec, focused on 3D printing, VR / AR and Circuits Wearables for ages 12+ was suggested. This would be a small group ideally up to 15 young people and given the facilitators' experience and the participants' feedback could be running x3 technology micro-groups within the sessions. A smaller, more focused group would enable participants to deepen their knowledge of technology while working on their specific interests and an integrated approach to STEAM.
Working on personal interest / participant-led projects within a specific technological field is both motivational as they are personally invested and facilitates the development of higher-order skills. It also develops their creativity, critical thinking, reflection / action loops and interpersonal and communication skills as well as cross-project collaboration. Facilitators can also target their knowledge more specifically and introduce broader contextual knowledge regarding the application, future trends and age-appropriate engagement with related knowledge and research.
To facilitate the next stage – Maine Valley will continue discussions with the young people and SMARTlab Skelligs over the summer with a view to developing a coherent programme and initiating phase 2 - Aug / Sept 2022 in line with participants' views and requests. This will be used to develop a STEAM programme with the Teen Tech Club.
The Future is Now.
It is time to prepare today's students for today’s world.
Muinin Catalyst Sustainable STEAM will work with 16 schools in the Munster province and provide Transition Year students with experiences that will prepare them for the next steps in their learning and life journeys beyond formal education. The MCSS project has been set up to gather critical data that will help augment and update the Irish Senior Cycle with 21st-century future-ready skills based towards an Irish curriculum for all.
Would you like to be one of those 16 schools?
Please get in touch with MCSS firstname.lastname@example.org below and find out how we can help your school community and its students prepare for a VUCA world - one which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.