Friday, 17 January 2014

@stephenheppell Feature Stand at #BETT2014

We are delighted to be joining IPACA Patron Professor Stephen Heppell for his Feature Stand at BETT 2014. The stand will explore #BigData and one of the things we will be exploring is 'light levels' in school... more information on this to follow.

Much of our work will be inspired by the below project highlighted at - http://www.heppell.net/learner_led/ -

In this SEK school in Spain the students had researched and understood the impact of noise on learning (see aural learning environments). Their beautifully designed - and well ahead of the game - school materials from the 1970s - thermoplastic floor tiles, concerete ceilings, parallel glass surfaces, and so on. They thought by reducing ambient noise the could make their learning spaces better, but where to prioritise their efforts?

Using a simple free app, a decibel meter (free for iPhone and Android - there are several available).

decibel meter on a phone

The students were able, at 9.00, 11.00, 13.00 and 15.00 to sample sound levels around the school and plot the levels on an ouline of the premises - colours for each step of 10 decibels (which is roughly a doubling of sound each time). By overlaying the colour maps they could see the sound peaks that were persistent throughout the day. the canteen was noisy, but only at meal times. Their identified a stairwell and beneath the stairs the sound peaked at around 100db. Cue research into what else is that noisy (a motorcuyycle race, a rock concert...).

So they thought this was a valued focus for their efforts and they tried a few things - we explored hanging soft materilas - rugs, sheets of egg boxes - vertically alongside the stairs, but the students suggested what you see happening in this image:

stair noise research

In short, two are standing top and bottom of the stair with iPads measuring sound levels (that free app again) whilst their collegues walk up and down the stairs, filming their feet as they go. The idea was to discover a quieter way of walking (as revealed by the decibel meter) and to then share it with the rest of the school (via the videos captured).

In practice the quieter way was to walk on "tippy-toes" - it was the heel hitting the stair that caused excessive sound - walking on "tippy-toes" meant the ankle was an effective form of suspension and noise levels fell siubstantially.

You can see the gains here: quieter school, noise aware reflective students, some good tech project work (and next building a Raspberry Pi noise alert light - flashes red if you walk to loudly?), student led, student solved. Ownership, better ideas... oh and even better learning in that quieter school.
As I was assembling this page, Chris Hopkins (@Mischievous78) at Hampden Park Public School in Tweeted to say this about his own learner led design project at Hampden Park School in New South Wales:
chris' tweet
and you can visit his students' progress with their library from here. I particularly enjoyed Chris' "they own this space" comment.

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