Empowering our Students, Empowering Society

One of the great opportunities that comes with being a Multi-Academy Trust is our sponsorship. London South Bank University, our primary sponsors, have developed a team from their academics and professionals that engages with our schools. They are summed up in two areas of focus: academic and skills enrichment.

We, at the Trust, believe that the only way to produce passionate and equipped young engineers, scientists, programmers and mathematicians, who will make a positive impact in our society, is to show them how these disciplines are applied in real life. Only through making them realise that they can make a difference here and now through what they learn will we cultivate motivation that propels them to succeed.

An example of the kind of enrichment that LSBU brings to our schools is our social inclusion app challenge.

The Inventeurs have been busy this term. During Refugee week, Safia and Imran’s team from London South Bank University worked with the Year 10s from South Bank Engineering UTC to develop an app. The brief was to create an app that could help refugees easily integrate into society here in the UK. It needed to be original, implementable and innovative.

The team kicked it off with a welcome from South Bank Academies Trust CEO, Nicole Louis, a recap over their previous work on the project, and a Q&A time with LSBU Student Ambassadors: Natasha, Ateed, Kishan, Brahim, George and Marisa.

Safia, Imran and the Student Ambassador team presenting the challenge to the Y10s at the UTC

The Y10 teams learnt about the ‘Double Diamond Process’, a visual model to help the teams structure their projects. The model shows how to scope ideas, refine, scope refined ideas, further refine and then develop. The teams began by drafting their initial thoughts: the issues that refugees face.

Walking through the computer rooms, there were quite a few animated debates about what refugees need when they arrive in the UK. They needed a bit of help to get started. Our ambassadors helped them to focus and understand the task. As the teams started to grasp the implications of the challenge, and the way the programs worked, they became enthusiastic. They were happy to explain their ideas and progress to whoever asked.

They had a number of tasks to complete: Plans/ideas on paper, the app visualisation on Balsamiq, a presentation of their app on Powerpoint and using Skratch Animation, and to write a creative description of what they did on KidBlog. This tested their collaboration and teamwork skills.

Team designing their app on Balsamiq

The LSBU team and the students learnt from each other. It was inspiring to see the Y10’s grow in innovation and the creativity. One of the teams came up with the idea of creating avatars based on user data. They thought that the best way to help refugees is to tailor the service based on their age, gender, and any specific requirements. Some teams had a location feature that integrated with Google Maps, so that you could find pharmacies in your area, or find where the nearest supermarket is.

While some were working on their app design on Balsamiq, others were working on their presentations. These presentations were opportunities for students to communicate the issues that faced refugees, and the solutions that they have worked on to address this. Martin, a hardworking year 10 student, shared some of the struggles he had with the project. Using Skratch Animation and integrating this into Powerpoint was a hurdle. ‘Skratch is a challenge; you have to make sure the code makes sense.’ He demonstrated on the computer how a slight miscalculation on the code adversely affected the animation.

The following week, our UTC Y10 students visited LSBU where they pitched their app solutions to a panel of judges. This was a challenging experience for the students, but they worked together and presented their apps with excitement and nerves. Our student ambassadors were proud of how far the students had come and how much they had achieved.

The team that won the challenge, presenting their app for social inclusion for refugees

A huge well done goes to Jackson, Fabz, La-Sharnti, Nathaniel, Leon and Dienifer, our winning team. Their app, Salvage, was the winning design. They collaborated well, had a great vision for the end product, and they impressed the judges with their innovation and creativity.

These projects that LSBU’s engagement team run in our schools are more than just for fun; they make an important impression on our school kids. They help kids think about the world they live in, and the opportunity to make something great of their lives. It is the combination of awareness and skills development that enables our students to achieve more than they thought, and develop key skills that they will need for study and/or working life. They know that the coding, the group delegation, the public speaking is all for a real problem and a real solution. So, well done to all the Year 10s who worked on this project, keep working hard and keep learning how you can make a difference.