Improving practical capability

One of the Foundation’s priorities is:

Improving practical capability – especially that which relates to designing and making, to innovation and to manufacturing

A number of the ventures we support aim, in different ways, to provide opportunities for young people in schools (as well as people in wider communities across the UK), to experience designing and making and through this process to improve their practical capability.

These ventures provide opportunities to engage with makers in a range of contexts and to promote designing and making as a special way of learning.

This may mean learning by innovating in response to a real world need by designing and making a three-dimensional artefact – or it may mean designing and making an outcome such as a presentation.  Importantly, it represents a way of interacting with the world that the Foundation has consistently supported for over forty years.

The Foundation has endorsed this kind of work through facilitating a network of those involved in the ‘maker movement’ and supporting related developments such as:

The Science and Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub(SEERIH) at the University of Manchester.  (This work is in partnership with the Primary Science Teaching Trust and the Royal Academy of Engineering.)  The Hub works with a range of primary and secondary schools “to fascinate young people and their communities about the wonders of science and engineering.”  It has been exploring the process of ‘tinkering’ as a foundation stone of the process of designing and making.  Explore their work on a selection of their Video-Links

Stoke Engineering Project (StEP) which aims to encourage greater numbers of young people in Stoke-on-Trent to study STEM subjects and equip them for careers as engineers and technicians.  StEP is a Royal Academy of Engineering project which builds on approaches first developed in the Academy’s Barrow Engineering Project and the London Engineering Project.  It currently involves five secondary schools and two colleges.

The Creative Education Trust – a Multi Academy Trust with 13 academies- in the Midlands and Great Yarmouth.  The Trust works to promote a vision of a liberal education informed by a number of concepts drawn from the worlds of design, architecture and engineering: structure, pattern, meaning, performance, human interaction and practical making/doing. The Foundation has supported some focused professional development for their teachers.

Maker Assemblies – for several years now we have been facilitating communication between makerspaces in the UK and others involved in the growing Maker Movement, both here and internationally.  The Foundation currently supports this interaction across makers, academics and others through the work of the Maker Assembly.  One significant development has been the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) research project at the Royal College of Art.  Explore their work on a selection of their Video-Links

Fixperts –  began its work with undergraduates with the Foundation supporting them in adapting their approach for use in schools.  The approach focuses on user-centred design emhasising the relationship between the needs of the potential user and the designer/maker.  Explore their work on a Video-Link

RSA – having worked with the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to promote some early activities among UK makers we are now working in partnership with them to develop the RSA Pupil Design Awards which the RSA is developing into a national programme in which pupils in schools across the UK will be able to participate.

Designers in Residence – with Manchester Metropolitan University and the Ideas Foundation we have developed an approach which places post-graduate design students in schools for short internships, where they work with students to design and develop legacy products which live on with the schools.

The Halley Academy, South London was supported in some early explorations focused on integrating digital technologies across the art and design field.  The approach used both higher education students and an outside expert to work with classes and their teachers.  Explore their work on a Video-Link.

The Centre for Real World Learning at the University of Winchester, which was commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering to produce the report: Thinking like an Engineer: implications for the education system.  Other Foundation projects have been using this work and its ‘thinking like an engineer’ approach.

The Crafts Council  – the Foundation is supporting one of the three areas of the Crafts Council ‘Make Your Future’ project which encourages the reinstatement or reinvigoration of making skills in schools. It is also aimed at connecting traditional craft with digital technologies.  The Foundation is supporting the the metals based component in the West Midlands. Explore their work on a Video-Link.

At the invitation of the JCB Academy, the first University Technical College, where the main focus is engineering, a Comino Foundation team undertook  an evaluative case study of the Academy. The findings were presented to the Royal Academy of Engineering in January 2016.  The text of  the Case Study is available here.

Made Here Now is addressing the needs of young people who need to know what manufacturing and engineering occupations involve and how to access them.  The Foundation is supporting the development of a website over several years to service these needs.

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