Pallet Transformation

There are currently millions of pallets in circulation across the UK. The industry itself is worth over £260 million per year. After their initial use a variety of things can happen to a pallet: it can be discarded and put to landfill; reused multiple times and then put to landfill; refurbished, reused but it still ends up in landfill.

Up-cycling is a greener way of recycling, it only uses the individual’s energy. It helps to stop the linear path that the pallets are currently on and turns it into a cyclic process with little waste after manufacture. This unit is designed to encourage learners to take products that have become redundant or that are destined for the bin and create a new use for them.

For more details, download the presentation here (.pptx, 985KB).

Sustainable Food

This unit of work is designed to provide pupils with information on where their food comes from and how we can produce food for a sustainable future. Pupils will undertake a wide variety of activities to enhance their understanding of the topic and to develop valuable life skills. The topic will use active learning though discussion and outdoor learning to enable the pupils to develop a deeper and more personal understanding of the unit.

Pupils will also use enquiry skills to evaluate their own diets to lead them towards healthier life choices. Pupils will look at the local community and how the surrounding area has in the past provided sustainable food sources as well as how it can do this in the future. In this unit questioning will be used to guide and support topical discussions such as a debate on GM crops. Through this pupils will develop a wide range of skills relating to literacy, health and wellbeing and science. The topic will be linked to information that has been previously covered by other subject areas as well as topics yet to be covered in other subjects to provide an interdisciplinary experience for the pupils.

Download the poster here (pdf, 464KB).

Bridge Design Challenge

This unit of work has been designed as a partnership project with learners and teachers working in partnership with the Forestry Commission Scotland and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The case study task included in this unit also provides learners with an outdoor learning opportunity providing relevance and depth to the curriculum. The real-world context, use of partnership working to provide live clients for the design challenge and problem based nature of this unit create an authentic context which should both engage and motivate learners, providing challenge and enjoyment in line with the Principles of Curriculum Design.

The big task associated with this unit of work contains an element of competition with each learners design solution being tested and evaluated by the client ending in one winning design proposal. The inclusion of this competitive element can be seen as a further motivator for learner engagement and also provides an opportunity for personal achievement, listed as one of the purposes of senior phase education.

The underlying focus of this unit of work is sustainability. The unit aims to inform learners about the issue of climate change and ways in which CO2 emissions can be reduced through carbon capture and the use of wood in construction from local, responsibly managed forests instead of other materials such as metals and plastics. The knowledge and understanding of issues relating to sustainability developed in this unit will assist learners in becoming responsible citizens who are able to evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues, develop informed, ethical views of complex issues and make informed choices and decisions.

This unit of work has been developed as an interdisciplinary STEM project based on National 4 and 5 Engineering Science and including elements of Mathematics, Physics and Graphical Communication. Interdisciplinary projects allow learners to make connections between different subject areas and provide the opportunity to create inspiring contexts that provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences. It is my intention that different sections of this unit will be taught by staff from each of these subjects, providing expertise in each area and making the links between each subject explicit to learners and. It is also intended that the interdisciplinary, STEM setting of this unit will provide an exciting and thought provoking context for learners.

Throughout this unit there are opportunities to develop skills for learning, life and work. The cost and presentation of the design solution to the client are integral to the success of the project, developing learner s enterprise and presentation skills. The majority of tasks within the unit support the development of learners’ numeracy and literacy skills. Learners also take part in two group work activities developing their employability skills and capacities as effective contributors. The design challenge develops learner s creativity and thinking skills requiring them to understand and apply knowledge to analyse, evaluate and solve a design problem, developing their capacities as successful learners and effective contributors who are able to think creatively, solve problems and make reasoned evaluations.

As this unit is designed to fulfil outcomes from National 4 and 5 courses, summative assessment will be conducted under SQA guidelines. Formative assessment will also be used throughout the unit to support the learning process, inform next steps and provide a good basis for reporting on progress. Learners will receive feedback on their designs and presentations from the client and are asked to undertake self-assessment by evaluating successful and unsuccessful designs at the end of the unit. The incorporation of self-assessment in this unit links to the roles and responsibilities laid out by The Scottish Government which state that learners should review their own learning through self-assessment and that teachers should involve learners fully in assessment .

Download the poster for full details and references here (pdf, 2.9MB).

Carbon Capture Toy Design

Focusing on carbon capture in this unit of work the learners will adapt a “wood is good” approach and understand that trees take in CO2 and trap the carbon content within it. Through IDL the learners will explore the carbon content within different types of wood. By calculating the carbon content plus the hours spent on an electrical device the leherearners can work out how much Sitka spruce will be needed to trap their carbon emissions for one week.

The unit aims to promote outdoor learning and so the learners must produce a toy which can be used outdoors. The learners will gain an understanding of carbon capture, carbon footprint, climate change and sustainability, all the while learning the work of a designer and increasing their woodworking skills.

Download the poster by clicking on the thumbnail (jpg, 863KB).

When wood is the only answer

Wood is a renewable resource, economical and a very strong building material. This knowledge should be used in the context of developing our own community for the future. Wood is a store of carbon and it reduces the greenhouse effect by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This is an S3/S4 Project which uses cross-curricular skills to construct a model vision of the local community’s integral public use buildings. The only prerequisite is that the principal construction material is wood.

Download the poster here (pdf, 368KB).

The Hedgehog House Project

The hedgehog population is in dramatic decline: numbers have declined by over a third between 2003 and 2012 through loss of habitats (fragmentation) and poor management of hedgerows. In this interdisciplinary project, learners will learn about the natural environment for a hedgehog and the importance of protecting the hedgehog species, and will design and manufacture a hedgehog house.

Download the project overview here (pptx, 820KB).

Sustainability – Awareness and Action

Throughout Earth’s history its development has been dictated by natural occurrences, even where these events have been destructive. However, particularly since the Industrial Revolution Humanity’s negative impact on the environment such as through the release of greenhouse gases has been steadily increasing. With the worldwide population now having exceeded 7 billion, it is estimated that on average each person worldwide uses the equivalent resources of 3.5 Earths whilst every person in the UK uses the equivalent of 1.5 Earths. With the population worldwide set to increase over the next few decades the current situation is unsustainable and must be addressed. This unit aims to introduce sustainability over the course of a total of 12 lessons and assumes that participants have little knowledge of climate change. The awareness of climate change and its associated issues will be built-up throughout the unit leading to the opportunity for pupils to present their findings, etc. Elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are present to varying degrees throughout the proposed lessons and are designed to be flexible should new content be introduced. The tasks also have a multitude of learning opportunities, including: group work, communication development via presentations & discussions, guided research tasks and practical activities. Transferable skills are also developed with links made to engineering and the chance to plan a conservation project offered. The Curriculum for Excellence encourages outdoor learning, the promotion of sustainability and multidisciplinary learning and this unit aims to meet these criteria.

Download the poster here (pdf, 615KB).

Putting the Hope back in Hope Hill

This unit of work engages young people in a project that is rich in scope but also grounded in a real world, authentic context that will be tangible to Scottish school children. Set in a fictional town in West Lothian, the project exposes learners to issues of sustainable development. This context will be pertinent to many living in towns that have suffered from industrial decline and are now seeking new identities as they expand with new housing and associated infrastructure. Based loosely on the new Heartlands development adjacent to Whitburn in West Lothian, which is one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe; young people will learn about how the provision of power, housing and the treatment of waste can be a sustainable process.

One of the key learning theories employed in this unit is the use of an authentic learning context that has tangible links to life beyond school, particularly with regards to the world of work and global citizenship. Authenticity in education is the provision of learning experiences that relate to the lives of pupils and experiences that they are likely to encounter later in adult life (Hennessy and Murphy, 1999). It is argued by Snape & Foz-Turnbull (2013) that authentic projects which have ‘real-world’ contexts expose learners to a wider range of experiences that are transferable to the situations that they are likely to encounter in the workplace, therefore fostering a sense of responsibility for life beyond the classroom. Continue reading “Putting the Hope back in Hope Hill”

A Hive of Activity

Bees have been in the news, if not back in the fields pollinating the summer crops. The plight of the honeybee has received national media coverage and has led to the Scottish Government implementing policies to promote their health and increase their numbers. This has led to an increase in the popularity of beekeeping as a hobby and to an increase in small enterprises producing, and selling, bee related products. In this project the learners will be asked to develop an understanding of the importance of the honey bee in relation to the world that we live in and to take an active role in the sustainable future of the species. The unit is developed in partnership with the Forestry Commission and can be further enhanced through the involvement of local bee keeping trusts. The culmination of this unit will be the manufacture of a workable beehive and its set up, and maintenance, as a honey producing colony. This will take place within a SQA National 4 Practical Woodwork project and will involve small task skill building lessons leading on to the big task of manufacturing the working beehive. Once the manufacture stage is complete the opportunity is there, in collaboration with the Forestry commission, to introduce a colony of bees, and once mature, sustainably farm the honey with a view to setting up a small enterprise in an SQA National 4 Business project.

You can download a presentation here (pptx, 1.9MB) and a poster here (pdf, 1.7MB).

Red Squirrel Feeder Box

This unit of work is designed to be taught at S3 broad general education (BGE) level over twelve sessions. It will look at red squirrel conservation in the forest whilst simultaneously highlighting the use of timber as a sustainable material which can be used to manufacture feeder boxes for these animals. The unit will explore the issues pertaining to the red squirrels’ current plight as an endangered native species and look into the methods conservationists are utilising in order to protect the species from extinction.

Red squirrel conservation and sustainable forestry have been selected as the foundations of this unit of work in order to inform the learners of the cyclical nature of the forestry which may hold the key to saving the native red squirrel population from extinction and which simultaneously provides timber which, when managed correctly, provides a sustainable material. Continue reading “Red Squirrel Feeder Box”