Projects lead to better opportunities to learn

Impact Project Day is creating great excitement and bringing results at Campion College.

Impact Project Day is creating great excitement and bringing results at Campion College.

SKILLS FOR LIFE: Campion College 2015 leaver, Andrew Kemp 18, with the drone he designed and built for his Impact Project last year. The drone is equipped with GPS and an infra red camera, so it can pick up the body heat of a missing person over bushlands more quickly and economically than a helicopter. Andrew completed his project as part of a trial, this year projects are compulsory. Picture by Paul Rickard

CONCERN has turned to excitement among parents and students following a major change in curriculum at Campion College.

Fridays at the school have changed from regularly-run periods to Impact Project Day. Projects give students the opportunity to decide what they learn and design their own course of study.

Projects can be anything that are community-minded and involve curriculum learning. The new initiative has been in the making for years, says principal Paul McGuinness.

“Some parents have been apprehensive, but once we sit down and explain what it is, they get quite excited. Most see it as being a better way forward but it does take a shift in thinking.

“We want to teach to student interests instead of just parts of the curriculum. Hopefully that leads to a higher level of engagement.”

Another aspect of the projects is the idea that one person cannot know everything, but you can be an expert and have an in-depth knowledge of a chosen field.

“It is a move away from single-subject focus. It dovetails with NCEA and students still earn credits through their projects.

“The superficial level of learning is telling kids information that they retain and repeat. But if a student is interested, then they are most likely to take that learning to a deeper level — skills that are transferable to any situation.”

Impact Projects are for the whole school. Over the past three years there have been trials with juniors and seniors.

One previous senior student Andrew Kemp, 18, was interested in emergency services. Last year for his project, he designed and built a lightweight drone — complete with GPS — that could carry an infra-red camera over bushlands.

The idea was that the drone and camera could pick up the body heat of a missing person more efficiently and economically than a helicopter.

Passed with excellence

Andrew passed the year with excellence in graphic design at NCEA level 3 as a result of his project, which he designed on screen before 3D printing and ordering parts.

Before the project he had never taken the subject before.

“Of course sciences come into it — how it operates is all linked back to different subjects. Whatever NCEA achievement standards I did could be linked to the project.

“I had never even taken graphics before but designing the drone kept me interested.”

Andrew even gained English credits by doing a speech on the drone. Not one for public speaking, he felt confident speaking about something he knew.

“It is definitely great for people who have difficulty in the classroom. I am dyslexic so it was a massive help to have that continuity of a project. In the real world everything is developing so quickly and universities are heading this way too.

“The opportunity to work with people outside school was also good. It was a big confidence builder.”

Approaching companies

As part of acquiring the parts and expertise to complete his project, Andrew had to approach numerous companies.

“It is emailing and professional communication skills too. The scalability of a project is infinite. I was lucky I had the resources I did, but a lot of people only charged for materials or gave me discounts, once I explained or pitched what I was doing.”

As part of the project submission to the school at the start of the year, some students are asked to cost their idea, says Mr McGuinness.

“Some ideas will be expensive. In that case there has to be a purpose or a way to market it to make it affordable.

“Some students will be asked to instead build a model, seek funding options or set up their own company similar to the Young Enterprise Scheme.”

Mr McGuinness says one problem became clear during trials, when students who were doing a project needed the expertise of a teacher, for example a graphic design teacher when Andrew was designing his drone. The teacher was teaching a class, so was not available.

“The limitation was that staff who students needed access to were not available. That is one reason why it needed to be expanded to include the whole school.

“Ultimately we are looking to change the way our students learn, in response to what skills employers are saying they need for living in today’s society.”

Andrew says before his project he had no idea what he wanted to do after he left school at the end of 2015. Now he is taking a gap year before studying electronic engineering.

“I really did not have a clue.

“Now I have had hands-on experience with the industry, this is definitely something I want to continue.”

CONCERN has turned to excitement among parents and students following a major change in curriculum at Campion College.

Fridays at the school have changed from regularly-run periods to Impact Project Day. Projects give students the opportunity to decide what they learn and design their own course of study.

Projects can be anything that are community-minded and involve curriculum learning. The new initiative has been in the making for years, says principal Paul McGuinness.

“Some parents have been apprehensive, but once we sit down and explain what it is, they get quite excited. Most see it as being a better way forward but it does take a shift in thinking.

“We want to teach to student interests instead of just parts of the curriculum. Hopefully that leads to a higher level of engagement.”

Another aspect of the projects is the idea that one person cannot know everything, but you can be an expert and have an in-depth knowledge of a chosen field.

“It is a move away from single-subject focus. It dovetails with NCEA and students still earn credits through their projects.

“The superficial level of learning is telling kids information that they retain and repeat. But if a student is interested, then they are most likely to take that learning to a deeper level — skills that are transferable to any situation.”

Impact Projects are for the whole school. Over the past three years there have been trials with juniors and seniors.

One previous senior student Andrew Kemp, 18, was interested in emergency services. Last year for his project, he designed and built a lightweight drone — complete with GPS — that could carry an infra-red camera over bushlands.

The idea was that the drone and camera could pick up the body heat of a missing person more efficiently and economically than a helicopter.

Passed with excellence

Andrew passed the year with excellence in graphic design at NCEA level 3 as a result of his project, which he designed on screen before 3D printing and ordering parts.

Before the project he had never taken the subject before.

“Of course sciences come into it — how it operates is all linked back to different subjects. Whatever NCEA achievement standards I did could be linked to the project.

“I had never even taken graphics before but designing the drone kept me interested.”

Andrew even gained English credits by doing a speech on the drone. Not one for public speaking, he felt confident speaking about something he knew.

“It is definitely great for people who have difficulty in the classroom. I am dyslexic so it was a massive help to have that continuity of a project. In the real world everything is developing so quickly and universities are heading this way too.

“The opportunity to work with people outside school was also good. It was a big confidence builder.”

Approaching companies

As part of acquiring the parts and expertise to complete his project, Andrew had to approach numerous companies.

“It is emailing and professional communication skills too. The scalability of a project is infinite. I was lucky I had the resources I did, but a lot of people only charged for materials or gave me discounts, once I explained or pitched what I was doing.”

As part of the project submission to the school at the start of the year, some students are asked to cost their idea, says Mr McGuinness.

“Some ideas will be expensive. In that case there has to be a purpose or a way to market it to make it affordable.

“Some students will be asked to instead build a model, seek funding options or set up their own company similar to the Young Enterprise Scheme.”

Mr McGuinness says one problem became clear during trials, when students who were doing a project needed the expertise of a teacher, for example a graphic design teacher when Andrew was designing his drone. The teacher was teaching a class, so was not available.

“The limitation was that staff who students needed access to were not available. That is one reason why it needed to be expanded to include the whole school.

“Ultimately we are looking to change the way our students learn, in response to what skills employers are saying they need for living in today’s society.”

Andrew says before his project he had no idea what he wanted to do after he left school at the end of 2015. Now he is taking a gap year before studying electronic engineering.

“I really did not have a clue.

“Now I have had hands-on experience with the industry, this is definitely something I want to continue.”

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