This is part of a short series of posts where I reflect on the inaugural Intel Education Visionaries meet up in Santa Clara, California in October 2015.
An ongoing theme of the conference was ‘making’ and ‘tinkering’ – two topics very close to my heart and after John Galvin’s keynote presentation we had a chance to hear from four young people who were self-confessed ‘makers’.
Riana, Riya, Sasha and Shubham all spoke well and they all had an interesting story to tell about their making and digital exploits. I would go into precise detail here but their collective experience included app development, website development, starting code clubs for younger children, making robots (one that could explore and map a cave!) and sophisticated robotics (including the creation of a braille printer made out of Lego!).
The presentations were interesting for three reasons.
Firstly, they were are great reminder that young people can do amazing things when they put their mind to it and we need to work harder than ever in schools to make sure that we don’t suppress creativity.
Secondly, it was obvious to me how much the role of the school or district ‘science fair’ has an impact on the US school system. To my knowledge, Science fairs aren’t really that popular in the UK but listening to the young people on the panel I could really see how an annual event might be helpful?
Finally, despite all of the young people having a long list of very noticeable achievements and all of them speaking passionately about how one or more teachers had influence their practice at school. All of the activities they described were completed pretty much in their own time or as a form of extra-curricular activity.
In terms of my own practice as we work hard at Kingussie to bring our maker space up to full capacity I’m absolutely determined to ensure that young people will be able to access it in curriculum time, for curriculum projects as well as an extra-curricular activity.
A massive well-done to all the Young People on the panel – it was great to have student voice at the heart of such an important conference.