EdLab Challenges

EdLab Challenge: Support an Artistic Workshop involving Robot Making

Student mentors required for an exciting two-day workshop with Manchester School of Art.

Workshop Description: For this workshop, participants will be challenged to write and perform short sci-fi dramas featuring their very own prototype robots. They will invent and perform a dystopian future for Stockport whilst exploring Arduino physical computing. This workshop is aimed at 11-16 year olds.


This opportunity would be ideal for:

  • Those with an interest in pursuing a career within arts education or education
  • Those interested in working directly with young people
  • Someone with an interest in technology and design


Continue reading

EdLab Challenge – Deploy StarLab

EdLab MMU invite you to get involved in StarLab. Your challenge is to use StarLab as a stimulus for learning experiences to be delivered to children between 0-5 in a local Reggio Emilia nursery.


This will involve:

  • Develop a range of ideas for using StarLab in interdisciplinary and age appropriate ways
  • Work as a team to select identify a smaller number of the best ideas for deployment
  • Plan and resource a day of activity for various cohorts in Alexandra Park Children’s Learning Community
  • Deliver and evaluate the day

Continue reading

EdLab Challenge: Support a digital story trail for a Homeless charity

EdLab MMU and Community Arts North West are working with Petrus Homeless project to support the Hidden Rochdale project, a highly interactive digital trail that will tell the hidden stories of Petrus homeless service-users. Their goal is to take the audience on a provocative and highly engaging journey through Rochdale to uncover digital artifacts that will be concealed in the landscape.


Developed by the Petrus Community working in partnership with Community Arts North West, the project uses writing, spoken word, music, video, animation and mobile technologies, and will culminate in an interactive digital trail that will take the audience on an engaging and creative journey through Rochdale town-centre in 2017.

Continue reading

EdLab Spark: Support an activity at The Place Fallowfield

The Place in Fallowfield is a multi use learning centre incorporating Fallowfield library. There are courses offered by the WEA and it is supported by local housing provider One Manchester. It is an inspiring example of the community and local businesses coming together to save a great local resource from the cuts. The Place is home to some larger events which showcase different opportunities available. One example of this is an upcoming event on apprenticeships in January.


When people arrive at education events they may be nervous. They may not have had the best time at school or other education. They may lack confidence in seeking out new opportunities.

Can you design an activity that can happen to support other events. Your mission is to help people gain confidence about learning and make a link to what they have already done. It might be full of familiar and friendly things and allow them to get involved in a fun way. At the end of visiting your stall, they should come away feeling positive about what they already know and ready to learn more.

Continue reading

EdLab Challenge: Support a Young Voices Workshop

Young Voices performances are children’s choir concerts held in MEN Arena for up to 8,000 kids. The organisation sends out the music, CDs and DVDs of dance moves. Over the years the children in the choir have performed with artists such as Alexandra Burke, Joss Stone, and Gary Barlow as well as raising over 1 million pounds for Children’s charities such as CLIC Sargent.


Suzie Goodfellow home educator group convener sets us a challenge:

My plan is to have fortnightly rehearsals for Home Educated children to try to support the process of learning the songs and dance moves at home. I would like support from students in running these sessions. This may involve helping with welcoming and giving out materials to planning warm up activities or taking a lead on rehearsing a particular song.

Home education has grown in popularity in the UK and has prompted a the government to issue guidelines for local authorities and other response suggesting greater regulation. To help provide a wide range of activities for their children many Home Educators work together in loose networks.

Home educators have diverse reasons for their choice but the following educators are of interest:

More Information:
To get involved in this project, or to work on a challenge which supports the development of this project, contact m.chesterman @mmu.ac.uk or edlab @mmu.ac.uk

Key Partner: Home Educators
Key Words: Home Education, Music, Community building,Community Arts, team spirit, group co-ordination, choirs, coral performance, civic arts

Funologist Project: Use the Tinkering tools Scratch and Makey Makey

Use the Tinkering tools Scratch and Makey Makey to create engaging after school workshops

Scratch is a tried and tested tool for exploratory play and learning of coding ideas via tinkering. It’s genesis in MIT labs has ensured it is well supported with wide adoption and an interesting research base. Impressively, the community of users creating and sharing their creations or ‘scratches’ is significant in size and diversity. There are many remixes of all recognisable computer game types including adventure and narrative forms.


Makey Makey is a keyboard controller interface, which has had great success as a demonstration tool. It is often used in combination with Scratch to showcase the immediacy of new forms of creative software and interactive hardware controllers to create engaging activities.
We will be working with Code Club who are currently redeveloping their Scratch resource to increase the input and creativity of young people.

Continue reading

EdLab Challenge: Make or Break – Exploring the Insides of Broken Gadgets for Repair or Reuse

Have you ever wondered why your laptop, phone and gadgets become out of date so quickly? Has it ever frustrated you that mobile devices seem so tricky to repair? How can it be right that only 12% of phones are traded in or reused when users upgrade? What is the effect on our environment?

Cranking a sustainable laptop

Cranking a sustainable laptop

The keywords here are “Planned Obsolescence”, where companies build in the fragility and short software and service life-cycle of our products. This guardian article on planned obsolescence  talks with Rachel Botsman and explores how the tech giants can get away with it.

Make or Break device repair events

Dr Chris Porter and EdLab are running a series of events that explore this topic on this project. He is looking for student volunteers to help run these sessions. Specifically we are looking for volunteers:

  • host events by welcoming attendees
  • create supporting publicity
  • make educational resources on this subject

More information

This issue brings many issues together. Planned obsolescence has been seen as a side effect of a market where consumers have little power and are persuaded to place a high value on new products. When material is so hard to recycle, there is little incentive to be sustainable. How can this be increased?

Beyond the response of individual consumers there are more industry led initiatives which offer hope. These include Frugal Innovation and Circular Economy. Miles Park brings these elements of consumer response and design together here.

The subject matter of electronic waste forms a part of the GCSE Computing and Geography curriculum and there are resources which may be adapted to create your own resources for this age range.

EdLab Challenge: Raise Awareness of Educational Inequality with Street-Child

In Sierra Leone there is a dangerously worrying fact facing vulnerable young girls looking for a fair start in life: they’re simply not being given the opportunity to stay in school.

UNICEF research shows that even a single year of secondary education has the potential to increase a girl’s future earnings by up to 25%. Investment in girls’ education also has a multiplier effect: educated girls benefit from better family planning and have healthier children who are more likely to remain in education themselves. But Sierra Leonean girls are increasingly likely to drop out of school at this vital stage.

Street-Child are a charity who work to address these issues. Juliet from Street-Child said that they are keen to work with MMU students to support their work. The challenge is to raise funds and awareness of the educational issues faced Sierra Leone. Contact EdLab to get involved!


EdLab Challenge: Dr Who History Primary Activity

This is a time-traveller activity for primary school pupils designed to take them on a journey of historical discovery. We have the resources and spaces to deliver a number of activities spanning different historical periods, and even a leap into the future! Students can access the support of staff and students who have delivered this project previously, in order to support the delivery of this exciting and interactive challenge.

 Pupils were rewarded with prizes and many left saying “This was the best trip we have ever been on!” 


EdLab Challenge: Musical T Shirts

Using a device called a ‘Makey Makey’ we have designed an activity which engages learners in a process of creative, technological, musical and electronic discovery. This involves designing and painting t-shirts using a mix of fabric paints and conductive paints, and then linking them up to a short circuit via the Makey Makey in order to make the T-shirts make sounds. Learners can use their creativity to design the t-shirts and to select the sounds, and we can provide support in adding the technology.

“Year 9 students from Whalley Range High really enjoyed this project, and made some beautiful and noisy creations.”

musical tshirts


EdLab Challenge: Deliver an Interdisciplinary Project with Primary Pupils

This is an EdLab challenge created by our Science Communication Lecturer Dr Sam Illingworth. It is delivered with the help of EdLab students to primary school pupils from local schools. The basis of the project is to mix the disciplines of science and poetry to demonstrate the similarities.

Ceri Hunter Foundation Student:

“At the start of the session the pupils were resistant to taking part as they didn’t like the idea of science and poetry; some said it was ‘boring.’ But as the session started they all got involved, and I think it was helped by the type of poems that were used; they were modern and fun and got the children engaged.”


EdLab Challenge: Pop Up Performance Stall

Most people want to be a performer in one way or other but they may be shy. Can you bring people out of their shell by recording their voice but adding effects to it before you play it back? One example is described below. But you may have your own ideas for what to do for this challenge which involves running a stall.

EdLab was supported by MMU education students to create a pop up activity at the Poetry Together Trailblazer Event. We asked the young people (and older ones too)…

Would you like us to turn you into a Robot?


We had a range of different short poems on technology available to read into a microphone and record into the Audacity programme. An effect was then applied (echo) to make them robotic. The results are below.




EdLab Challenge: Support the Amani Creatives music project

The Amani Live music events are a part of the Amani Creatives project. In 2016 they happen the first Sunday of the month at Band on the Wall.

Amani Creatives ( AC ) is a not-for-profit organisation based in Manchester – UK and operating in the ares of arts, heritage and development. Amani Creatives supports emerging and professional artists performing and practicing music and other art forms originating in Africa to increase their ambitions, exposure and employability.


Our challenge to students is to some support for you around gathering audience feedback and some of the performance work itself  to support funding application to the arts council and similar. Also, we would like help to communicate the aims of the project to our wider audience.

The Amani Live music events have wider social aims beyond the delivery of good music. They act as a hub for musicians and music educators and the African diaspora community and supporters.

More Information: 

To get involved in this project, or to work on a challenge which supports the development of this project, contact m.chesterman@mmu.ac.uk or edlab@mmu.ac.uk

Key Partners: Amani Creatives, Community Arts North West

Key Words: creative music, community, arts, community development, Diaspora support, refugee communities