Challenging the boundaries of traditional education at summer camp in Glasgow

campMore than 20 youngsters from schools across Scotland have taken part in a ground-breaking summer camp where pupils designed and built their own robots, culminating in an epic ‘battlebotics’ contest.

During the two-week immersive course at Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow, aimed at stretching imaginations and inspiring creativity, pupils explored concepts of physics, electronics, and engineering.

The camp, which is the only one of its kind in Europe, is part of an exclusive partnership between Kelvinside and ‘innovation school’ NuVu. Together, the organisations are working to challenge the boundaries of traditional education.

Under the guidance of coaches from renowned American institutions, MIT and Harvard, camp pupils have gone through the full design process; researching, conceptualising, innovating, designing, and using digital fabrication tools.

12-year-old student Finbar said; “I’m still shocked that we’ve made our very own robot. This is definitely the highlight of my summer.

“I got to use laser cutters, learned about coding and how to make robot parts with a 3D printer. It didn’t feel like school because we were all working together and had a lot more freedom to explore our ideas.”

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Ian Munro, rector at Kelvinside Academy said; “I’ve watched as pupils arrived here with what was essentially a blank sheet of paper. Throughout the short two-week camp, they’ve worked with design experts and each other to create robots. That’s pretty cool. There has been an incredible buzz around the school this summer.

“Pupils were pushed out of their comfort zone to explore some really complex ideas and challenged to come up with meaningful solutions. It has been hugely rewarding to see how inspired our pupils became as they discovered and developed their own unique creative process. “

Timetables, exams and classrooms still have their place in education, but the system needs to be less restrictive – Ian Munro.

Since joining Kelvinside Academy in 2016, Munro has been calling on the Scottish Government to examine the effectiveness of the traditional education system, suggesting, among other things, that industry experts should be invited into the classroom to work with pupils on specific projects.

“We live in a rapidly evolving world, where teaching practices of the past can’t be seen as the only way to develop the skills required for an uncertain future,” he said.

“Our pupils will enter a world where engineering, digital technology and science skills will be more important than ever before.

“Timetables, exams and classrooms still have their place in education, but the system needs to be less restrictive.  School should be a place where children have the freedom to collaborate and the opportunity to explore their own imagination.”

Kelvinside Academy secured an exclusive European partnership with NuVu in 2017. As part of the school’s commitment to creative learning and innovation in education, NuVu fellow James Addison, a design expert from MIT, will lead immersive courses for Kelvinside Academy pupils throughout the academic year.

Pictures: Euan Rodger, Samantha Insall and Finlay Whitton with finished robot designs.