Workshops for Schools Taking Trips to Developing Nations

How might your students know that their trip really made a difference to peoples lives? Taking students on a school trip to a developing nation can be transformational. Our Rubbish Science workshops aim to increase the positive impact of these by developing scientific literacy. Humans are naturally intuitive scientists. Babies have been found to have a grasp of the laws of physics, Curiosity drives infants to search for understanding and to try to make sense of the World. All scientists do is systematise this curiosity to make learning more effective. We can equip people with some very powerful tools and turn them into science communicators within a couple of days. “A weekend of Rubbish Science was just what our students needed to bring them together as a team before we head off to Cambodia on a service project. The activities inspired them to think ‘outside of the box’ and to find creative solutions to problems”  John Turner Aiglon College Switzerland We are not the solvers of problems, we give people the tools to try and solve problems. Your students will learn a great deal about themselves as well as others. Most of our activities have no currently known ‘best’ solution. The journey is more important than the destination and the ‘winner’ is the person who has learned the most, not who achieved the highest performing result. We actively promote a Growth Mindset through productive failure. Failure is simply a learning experience, the beginning of something, not the end All Rubbish Science Workshops are bespoke, tailored to the requirements of the group.  This workshop for Aiglon College in Switzerland is outlined to give an idea of what we can offer. The school was taking a group of students to Cambodia for a Service Project working with refugees. The students were going to be teaching formal English lessons as well as some practical science projects. We started with the idea of what a scientist is. Someone who looks at evidence and then makes decisions based on that. So we are all scientists and fundamentally we just need to systematise our thinking to make better decisions. The TASC Wheel combined with Design Thinking  does this nicely and is the model we use to develop all our activities
  • What is the task/problem?
  • What questions do I need to answer in order to solve it?
  • What do I know already?
  • What do I need to know and how will I find out?
  • What ideas do I have?
  • What’s probably the best idea?
  • How might I try something without using much time or resources? (Prototyping)
  • Did it work? What did I learn?
  • How might I tell others about it?
  With the Aiglon students we first looked at their starting points. Like many they were initially very focussed on their own performance and during the helium straws activity were looking at the other team and comparing how well they were doing.  This continued through the newspaper tower challenge. At this stage I was worried about how much they would get from the workshop.

Newspaper Towers

The bottle rocket activity using the Tasc and Design thinking worked really well. They prototyped, evaluated theirs and others designs and refined them. Loads of enthusiasm, smiles and engagement.

Bottle Rocket Launch

As we were outdoors in the woods they had a go at team building a geodesic dome    

The team leader organises the whole group to try and build a large geodesic dome

This was a very challenging activity and they rose to the challenge brilliantly, but didnt quite manage it. Their attitude was brilliant though. “We didnt fail we learned a lot!”   It wasnt hot enough to create a solar still so we made Rubbish Thermos flasks to keep water as hot as possible. Again it was about learning and the difference in approach compared to the way they dealt with the first task of the day was incredible. The most effective design was very impressive, but more so was the innovative thinking shown. Making  fishing line from plastic bags turned into a challenge to tow a cart with it. The two groups had completely different approaches with one being very successful and the other slipping into failure avoidance. We got the students to watch and think about the group dynamics. Letting them fail or succeed and then getting them to analyse how they did. The learning experience is always more important than the end result. Questions we got the students to think about: What size groups should we use? How should we organise them?  What do we do if they start to fail and give up? When should we step in? What are we trying to achieve? Finally, we set up some bottle gardens. These are some of the most important activities in that they can give people a degree of food security. The downside is that as in many biology activities take a long time to get results. A full explanation of the bottle gardens project is curretly being written . Please follow the blog for updates. If you want a bespoke program delivered at your school or more information please can you contact Neil Atkin at [email protected] Workshops fund further projects with disadvantaged people worldwide.