Scrapheap Challenge February 2018

February already and we are very pleased to welcome Y2 from Newcomen and Y3 from Oakdene for the latest Scrapheap Challenge. As always the focus is on the skills that will stand the children in such great stead later in life: teamwork, creativity, problem-solving. Everywhere I look there are amazing conversations going on, children nodding, compromising and forming new plans.  We have had several visitors drop in this morning and what struck me about all of them was how they immediately grinned, then described how the buzz in the room was fantastic. Yes it is.

What they have produced so far is fantastic. Have a look below:

Live stream from 2.10pm as usual!

Scrapheap Challenge January 2018

Yes the first of the year here at Inspire2Learn and we are pretty much fully booked on all of the remaining ones from now until July. There will be next year’s event diary coming out soon though so watch this space!

Today we have Oakdene, St Clare’s and Caedmon Primaries attempting the scrapheap challenge. As usual our focus is not on the task but the way that the children work. We have highlighted the importance of team working, listening, compromising and then forming a joint plan where everyone knows their role. Think of it as an assessment centre for a big company! As usual the idea are varied ranging from some vague ideas about how nuclear reactors can work in a school (controversial!) to simple activities that make the environment fun but capture pupil energy. Have a look at some of the children planning and then starting their builds below. As usual the groups will nominate their presenters who will talk about their designs live to the web after about 2.10pm below.

Playing with ideas

IMG_7529Unfortunately one of our schools today couldn’t make it but Oakdene Y2 more than made up for it! Their enthusiasm from the minute they arrived was fantastic and mixing that with an attitude to learn something new was a winning combination.

These children had never done any green screen or animation work before and my intention was to combine both in creating animated Christmas cards. As usual, the focus was not on the skill in hand really (they always get that anyway, they just need practise to develop it further), it was more to work collaboratively, creatively and within a given task.  Some used the resources I had prepared, many then created new ones that hadn’t been provided, they solved the problems in front of them brilliantly. That is what animation is all about and with more practice they will get the rhythm of the FPS (they will know what that means) better and avoid as many hands, blurs, shots of the floor and shakes in their future work. For day 1 it was an impressive start.

They did marvellously well and we were keen to combine their Nativity performance repertoire in the final film. You may never get the song out of your head if you watch the whole video! Well done to all of you and hopefully we will see you again as you progress through school so we can take advantage of that enthusiasm to develop your skills even further!

Animation first time around

IMG_8451What a busy week we are having here at the centre. We often have two or three events a week but 90 pupils Y3/5/6 from Brambles, Dormanstown and Thornaby Academies today all animating for the first time was definitely a challenge. As usual though, the aim is to give children wider experiences, not just the task in hand but also the experience of working effectively in a team, often up against a time limit. Never having animated before meant that we needed to get to grips with the app ‘Stop Motion’. It is pretty straightforward and we have used it as young as Reception very successfully but knowing the app is about 5% of animating. Getting a feel for the appropriate sized movements of objects, spacing of movement within a time frame, understanding of FPS and how to make characters interact realistically are all elements of the craft that you develop over many projects…not just a few hours! However, today’s introduction means that every child has left the building with a pretty good grasp of how to put animations together and even use iMovie to assemble multiple scenes. You can see from the pictures how important it was for the pupils to work effectively in teams, creating a shared vision and defining clear roles to accomplish it. I’ve also included the final pieces of work that they produced. As ever in life, some children got the hang of it quite quickly and you will see that some of the videos include a title and voice over. Others might not see to have got nearly as far but I can assure you that was often due to restarting several times to correct misunderstandings they had as their experience grew.

Scrapheap Challenge December 2017


It never should surprise me but it always impresses me.

Y2/3/4 from Oakdene, Ormesby and Brambles Primaries have been hard at work on this year’s scrapheap challenge. As usual Percy the scrapstore in Middlesbrough have provided a wealth of high quality recycled materials and the pupils are creating some amazing models. The challenge continues to focus on sustainable energy and how they could adapt their school to be more energy efficient or even generate their own power. As usual the solutions have been varied and often completely out of the blue. But really, that is not the point, fantastic though they are. The point of the day is developing independent working skills as part of a collaborative team effort. Sharing ideas and finding a compromise on what to do. Assigning roles and even creating a job sheet with tasks that must be achieved within the time they have available are commonplace in any work based situation but in school much less so. These children have been thrown a task out of the blue, with team members randomly selected by staff and are expected to get on with it, and boy have they done that.

Watching their close interaction, paying attention to other children’s ideas, supporting each other with the build tasks, it is a real eye opener. It makes you wonder why we have so many employers telling us that school leavers, a good 10 years down the line of personal development for many of these children, have such poor team, communication or independent skills. You can see from the pictures above that given the context, an authentic situation that means something to them, there is no reluctance to write, to share ideas and to complete their work effectively. We’ll post their video presentations at about 2.30 where each group will present their work to the world.

What skills gap?

Well only if you employ them straight from KS1 it would seem!  Today we had a mixed IMG_4184group of over 70 Y1’s and 2’s from Dormanstown and Rift House Primary schools. Although the theme of the day was creativity we set the stall out from the very beginning about effective teamwork, listening skills and collaboration. Learning to compromise when people had different ideas was key amongst that.

And what did we find? The children were absolutely brilliant. From building a celebration day through to a ‘pre-marketing’ task, they showed amazing focus and ability to take ideas from all team members and then mould them into a solution. I have seen a lot of ‘enterprise’ schemes and events over the last few years and being a teacher I have felt many lack a real sense of progression. The work that these children did today opened the door to key vocabulary and also the focus on audience; work which would be built on in lower KS2 and beyond. Focusing on audience also develops their empathy to mindsets that are not their own, a key skill in becoming an effective writer or even being successful in later life. It was interesting to see how many of them wanted to write today without being asked to, to ensure that their ideas in pictures were not misconstrued. Boys don’t like writing??? I beg to differ.

So well done to the children today, their manners, care for others around them and general sensibleness (definitely a word) was an absolute credit to them and the staff who supported them. Enjoy the videos below where they are given the chance to explain about their models in terms of their audience needs:

Creative Christmas Y1 Style!


A busy week with hundreds of pupils attending different events culminated in our KS1 Creativity Day. Many of the children are only 5 years old but what excellent self regulation and engagement they showed all day. Yes the activity was based around developing a toy with a clear audience focus and appropriate features, but the real sub text to nearly everything we do here is the focus on personal attitude, interpersonal skills and completing a task. These children may be young but they developed those skills and attitudes brilliantly during the day. St Clare’s, Oakdene and Caedmon primaries brought a total of 71 children and some very enthusiastic adults to support:

I even challenged them to record on camera the product that they had created (using a basic LEGO set), who the audience was and what the features were that were appropriate to that audience. Pretty daunting when you are 5 and your image is being mirrored to a 20ft screen at the other end of the room! But unless children are offered these wider opportunities in challenging yet supportive situations, they won’t develop the self belief, in fact self esteem that goes with it. That is one of our primary aims here and just like nursery teachers encourage mark making as a precursor to writing, simplified use of enterprise type language and task focus is essential with the very youngest if we want our children to develop those skills effectively through their lives. Start young and build, they understand!

Enjoy their videos and excuse the hamfisted Director trying to cajole their ideas out of their heads!

Caedmon voice over vid:

Oakdene and St Clare’s speedy green screen:

Christmas Enterprise

What a great day today at Inspire2Learn with pupils from both Hummersknot in Darlington and Rift House in Hartlepool. We got off to a slow start examining TV adverts to identify how products are pitched at different audiences but once they got the hang of it, they were able to use their understanding to create bespoke Christmas decorations aimed at particular audiences:

Hummersknot even had time at the end to deliver short and snappy pitches to camera. What stood out for me today was how focussed the pupils were on their work. They took on board what they were shown, then applied it effectively. It was really interesting to watch them have to learn new skills on the fly, even the basics of using glitter carefully! Several conversations between myself and supporting staff revolved around how much care, attention to detail and general resilience the children were showing in getting the task achieved. This approach has a real knock on effect when pupils have this approach to learning integrated into the more academic elements. After all, this mimics effectively the way that they will be expected to work in their future careers, focussed, self regulated and time dependent!

Enjoy the videos below:

Scrapheap Challenge November 2017

What another brilliant day! Ormesby, St Clare’s and Oakdene Primaries brought some of their younger children today and their ideas were absolutely genuis. More than that though, their team work, planning and workplace care were absolutely outstanding. I was shocked to pop into the auditorium just before lunch and see how complete many of their projects already were.

The aim of these days is to face children with a challenge, work in a team effectively and present their findings. The children today achieved that brilliantly. Here are some of the images from the planning stage:

And here is the video of their presentations:

Young Animation

What a fantastic day we had here at Inspire2Learn. Mrs Jackson led a wonderful day with children from Ash Trees School in Billingham and Rift House from Hartlepool creating simple animations. Well I say simple, the length wasn’t massive but by the end of the day all of the children knew how to add voiceovers and had even created title sequences. Some of the older pupils also recorded narrative in Garageband to reassemble their video work in iMovie. Well done. They now have the skills to work on much greater depth animations and an understanding of how the number of frames. affects how a narrative can work.

Well done everyone.