Greenpower Day 2: Ready to Race

IMG_2549After a full on Day 1 all of the cars have the main body built and many also have 4 wheels attached. As I type several schools have already arrived and are getting straight back on task.  Hopefully by lunchtime several cars will be ready for an installation run along our temporary track. As with yesterday we will livestream the event during the day but we will also try and squeeze in some live interviews at some point too. We also have exciting news this morning that we will be supporting both the Croft event on 26th June and the Great Exhibition of the North event in July where the cars will be racing. We should have live interviews and possibly a running live feed for some of the day too. Seeing these cars being put together so expertly with the help of Mike and the Greenpower volunteers is amazing. If you would like to support in any way, even by just dropping in to see what is happening, please let us know.

The race track awaits…


Today’s livestream:

And some live interviews:

And our first test runs:

A time lapse of the build days:

Well done to everyone involved today. Not every car got to the point of a test run but most weren’t far off. I think the pics below show the sense of achievement with those that did though!

Greenpower: Start our engines!!!

IMG_2513Yes it is finally here! Fourteen Tees Valley schools took the offer of a heavily subsidised opportunity to take possession of an electric racing car that they will build and then race around Croft and Newcastle Quayside as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. They have two build days here at Inspire2Learn  and then will complete bodywork back in school before the first race trials in June. We have a live feed all day for both days and will constantly upload images to complement.

Massive thanks to Greenpower, The Reece Foundation and CSI for making this possible both financially and logistically.

Just popped back in after setting up a VR system at a school and look at the progress that  has been made already!

Looking for animation week?

Screen Shot 2018-05-20 at 21.23.33Well, like the poetry work before you, this is not the right place.

We created the Creative Den to celebrate culturally focussed work that schools take part in. In fact, if you would like your creative work in school celebrated, please contact us to upload some pictures and information. We know that this builds self esteem and confidence for pupils enormously, give it a go, it certainly doesn’t hurt!

So to access our wonderful creative work in schools, click below:


Stockton Entrepreneurs?

img_2221It was lovely to welcome three schools from Stockton LA to the centre today. White House, The Glebe and Roseberry Primaries came as a single group to take on our Enterprise Challenge. Enterprise skills cover a huge range of different areas but we focussed today on using effective teamwork, creativity and audience analysis to underpin our ‘Dad LEGO set’ task. After identifying key techniques that are used in adverts, the children then created their own product based on value propositions they had identified for the target audience. As usual the audience was focussed on me, well, ‘Dads, Uncles, Teachers’ about my age. Focussing their products appropriately is always a challenge and the dialogue to keep them focussed on a different point of view is essential. The teachers were a great support for the children with this. It takes time to develop the ability to see things from a radically different point of view and this was just their first attempt in this way.

As you can see from the pics below the children really got stuck in and it was lovely to see them using members of other groups to create the adverts that you will see below around 3pm!

You are in the wrong place!

IMG_2061Looking for Michael?

Read on…

Many of you may not be aware of the exciting new home for all things cultural and educational in the Tees Valley. One of the fundamental aims of this website is to celebrate achievements by pupils and help build their self esteem. We know this is a cornerstone of a successful mindset. We also know that there are loads of amazing events, interactions and initiatives going on between schools, colleges and the cultural sector. So, working with many of the organisations in the Tees Valley who do this on a regular basis, we have created a new home that celebrates those achievements and also informs other schools of what they could be doing to help develop a broad and balanced cultural offer to their pupils.

It is called the Creative Den and can be found by clicking on the icon below:

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 21.33.14

If you have done anything involving the arts that you would like to see celebrated to a wider audience, please contact us and we will be happy to include it on the site. We know that celebrating children’s work in this wider context has a much bigger impact on their self esteem than just through school channels. We do expect all safeguards are in place in terms of who is included though!

Contact us:

Today’s fantastic poetry launch pics and video featuring Michael Rosen and pupils from  over 40 of our schools can be found there.

Inspiring NE Film


What a fabulous day we have had at Inspire2Learn today. Following a chance meeting (if there ever is such a thing) with Jacqui Miller-Charlton and Craig Conway a few weeks ago at a Tees Valley Business Club event, we hosted an inspirational day of film to link with the Newcastle International Film Festival. Jacqui and Craig had come down to Teesside to talk about the festival but also articulate the vision that media production NE is something that is sadly lacking at the moment and such a waste of talent. They wanted to include the whole of the NE under the festival banner and use it to drive some change. This is the sort of activity that Inspire2Learn is designed to support so I offered to run a film making day and perhaps Craig as a well known local actor would be able to Skype in and talk to the students at some point?

The answer was no.

Instead he offered to actually come down and work with a group of students on a masterclass. I did point out that this was probably the busiest day of his life with the festival opening that night but he was adamant. He was coming. That sort of passion and commitment stands out for me and I used the offer as the basis of a showcase event. Knowing that students from one of our local colleges has a film nominated at the festival (amongst many other awards it is up for!), I invited Kelly Fairhurst, their inspirational tutor at Stockton Riverside College, to bring a group of young actors to work with Craig.

The event was designed around showcasing the talent in the area and also inspiring the next generation of film makers so I also invited another inspirational teacher, Matt Turnbull, and his students from Hillsview Academy to come and be part of the day. That meant we had students who are already into professional qualifications level working with students who are coming up to their GCSE choices. We do a fair bit of film work here at the centre and that is something that will increase next year because this day was merely the start of our association with the Newcastle festival. What all of us agreed when we first met is that a showcase day is great but a systematic programme of events for all ages was key to creating the change that is needed.

But back to today. Craig came for an hour….well, it was the longest hour I’ve ever timed. Working on audition pieces with the college age actors, having a long discussion with the nominated film makers and then a Q&A session with the Y9s, he was a brilliant guest and truly inspirational. You can see from the montage below:

Mat led the opening warm up sessions with all of the students and then while SRC took part in a masterclass,  we worked with the Hillsview students to learn iMovie so that they would have the skills to create a short project later. After Craig eventually had to leave, the students were put into mixed groups and challenged with TalkingUpTeesside. It was a very tight schedule to script, film and edit something that looked any good in essentially 75mins but it was brilliant too see how the groups gelled really well with everyone having input of ideas and sharing roles:

I think the films below are incidental to the learning that went on today. Compromise, team working, developing skills as needed, problem solving….just a few examples of the sort of skills and attitudes that they needed to employ to get anywhere near finishing something.

This day was a showcase. A start. Look out for our more progessive programme next year starting at primary and working upwards. Now enjoy today’s work…

Animation Day 23rd March 2018

Well, what a day that was! Two schools joined us at Inspire to Learn and became film makers for the day. We started the day with pieces of paper and we made them move!!! We created a word out of random letters. Then we were off. Vegetables of all colours came to life across a variety of backgrounds. What was the secret? Using the Stop Motion animation app, working as a team and having great creative skills. Oh and by the way, we are only Year 2.

After a lovely lunch, thank you Yvonne, we were creating films from scratch. Our own backgrounds and characters and not forgetting to storyboard before we start any filming.


Making our own animations:

Here they are!!

Enterprise Challenge March 2018

What a busy, busy day we had today with the fabulous pupils from Rift House in Hartlepool and Sacred Heart in Redcar. It was great mix having Y6 and 7 attempting the same task. By the time they had identified key techniques that marketeers use to convince us that we need something new, they were ready to produce their own work employing those techniques. I challenged them  little in that i asked them to focus their product on a different target audience to themselves. To succeed they needed to identify the value propositions that would appeal to their audience then refine them into a USP that would make their product stand out.

Once the product was designed they were able to shoot a short advert for it. Unfortunately due to the bus situation Rift House were only able to work here until 1.45 so it was a miracle that any of them got more than a handful of shots completed. But they did. Some are missing voiceovers, some whole scenes but I have uploaded their playlist below because what they did get done was using what they had learned. If only we had three days!

Sacred Heart were here for the full day and had a little more time to polish their work. It even allowed some of the groups the luxury of employing a chroma effect to make their product really stand out. But for me what really stands out is that all of the groups used some of the techniques that we had earlier identified: relatability, role models that match the audience, special offers etc. And that is what matters after a day like today, do they understand how to see someone else’s point of view and act accordingly?

That is a skill worth developing for all of us.



Animation and Green Screen Challenge

We love a challenge here at Inspire2Learn and knowing that we had such great pupils from Acklam Whin, Newcomen and Ormesby meant that we set today’s animation and green screen target high! Developing skill with animation takes time and our aim on a day here is to open up the possibilities so that new ways of working can be explored and then built upon back in school. The staff certainly threw themselves into today’s task so I can imagine this WILL be followed up in other curriculum areas.

The children were signed up to a green screen day but we love to combine green screen with animation because they naturally complement each other. So, today’s focus was not to produce a great storyline, great acting performances or a polished product. Today the objective was to leave the building understanding that animation creates one effect, green screen another and that the two can be combined.

You can see from the pictures not only the steps they had to go through but also the creative problem solving to achieve what they wanted to alongside a strong team ethic, all working to the same goal. I’ve condensed the films into one long one. Each group had two or three scenes showing live action, then a special effect on top of a photo. They then in many cases added a special effect on top of a live action piece. If only I had a week with them….

Oh wait a minute….Animation challenge week starting 21st May! Would you like to take part? In the meantime here’s the video showing the skills they acquired today. Now how could I put that in a literacy lesson…..? Hmmm….

Scrapheap Challenge March 2018

Well even the attempt to snow again didn’t stop the brilliant young minds from Brambles, Caedmon and Dormanstown coming to take on this year’s Scrapheap Challenge. I must admit there were a few bemused looks as the video for the challenge ended and children and teachers alike were puzzled how to respond. We have children from Y1 here today so the idea of sustainable energy is a long way from their experience….or is it? I don’t think it is. In schools we talk about turning off lights, not leaving iPads on for the batteries to run down and so on. They also see solar panels and wind turbines day in and day out….focussing this challenge on things that they see most days but perhaps never question makes them do just that.: question. What does that do? How does it work? I had no worries because we have had school groups from the youngest in primary all the way to Y9 attempt this challenge so far and I have never yet met a group that has not come up with some workable ideas.

And so it has proved, with a few prompts the children have come up with some great ideas.

As always the focus though is not the science, it is the teamwork, the problem solving and the creativity. We are very fortunate to have some support today from Principal Scientist Dr Ruth Poultney from Tees Valley based MPI. I picked on her at the beginning to introduce herself to the children and it was great that she picked up on the teamwork and problem solving themes that I had already outlined. We know from experience and the research that meeting authentic people form the world of work, and a great female role model – a female scientist no less! – has a great impact on the children’s development of cultural capital. It brings them closer mentally to being part of that world.

Anyway, enough words! Have a look at how they are getting on and tune in live from about 2.10pm to see their presentations: