Community Event – 26-7-2016 – Robot Orchestra Making with Noisy Toys

Help build the Mechanised String Section for Manchester’s Robot Orchestra. This will involve several different skills:


  • DIY/woodwork skills to attach the mini machines and string instruments onto a large frame · Electrical and audio installation to connect relays and contact microphones
  • Programing so that we can control the different instruments to start and stop at different times via Arduino.
  • Musical skills so that we can tune the stringed instruments to different keys and structure the sequence to fit in with a musical score written by the Hale Orchestra


This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the 2016 Brooks Community Learning Festival.

To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day

All Welcome at the Community Learning Festival 25 – 27 July 2017

The Community Learning Festival is an exciting and free event happening at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Brooks building on Tuesday, 25 July – Thursday, 27 July 2017, 12 – 6pm.

The festival is a celebration of the diversity of learning happening in the local area. It’s a chance for community learning providers and University projects to come together and enjoy the facilities at the Brooks building for a series of lively and interesting events.


The festival will have a range of activities, workshops, walks and talks over the three days. Each day features workshops on themes like democracy, care, community and the environment. Most importantly, there is always something going on for all ages and interests.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Music, rap and spoken word sessions
  • Art and textiles workshops mixing creative craft and technology
  • Creative walks and digital story trails
  • Debates and discussions on local and global issues
  • Junk Percussion workshops
  • Talks and films on civic action and social justice

The Festival has been organised by the Manchester Met Faculty of Education in association with community partners including Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust, Hideaway and Hulme Community Garden Centre.

Help us promote the Festival. Images and Workshops highlights to share with your networks via email and social media are available on the EdLab website:

Community Event – 27-7-2016 – Wordsmith Spoken Word Workshop

Are you an aspiring young poet, writer or MC? Do you feel like you have something to say? This workshop will help you find your voice, respond to the issues of the day and give guidance on writing and performance.



This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the Community Learning Festival at Brooks MMU Hulme taking place from the 26-28th July 2016
To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day


Community Event – 27-7-2016 – Amani Collectives Performance

Amani Creatives Performance: Bringing together local artists from DR Congo, Rwanda, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Tanzania, Mali, South-Africa, England and beyond.


Their monthly events has been wowing local audiences. Take this chance to see them free as part of the Community Learning Festival.


This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the Community Learning Festival at Brooks MMU Hulme taking place from the 26-28th July 2016
To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day

Community Event – 28-7-2016 – Making Techie Textiles with interactive T-shirts

Come along and use your creativity to paint, print and sew fabrics which can be connected to lights and sounds.


Recycled textiles will be provided, but you are also welcome to come and repurpose something of your own. Why not make your old T-shirts musical! Age 10-18


This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the 2016 Brooks Community Learning Festival.
To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day

Community Event – 27-7-2016 – Digital Storytelling and Story Trails – A skill share workshop

This workshop on storytelling is a chance to find out and experience digital storytelling. It will feature the work of Community Arts North West, Petrus Homeless project from Rochdale and the stories of local Hulme residents.


If you are a story teller interested in using mobile technologies or if you have already done work in this area come along to share your experiences and ideas. As part of this workshop you will have a chance to go out on a Story Trail of Hulme.


This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the 2016 Brooks Community Learning Festival.
To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day


More Than Pedestrian: Walking as Teaching, Learning & Understanding Place.

This participatory seminar explores how creative walking methods can be used in education and community development. It will focus on how walking and mapping can be used to share stories, build connections and create a sense of place. It is aimed at anyone curious about these methods.No experience necessary.


We are moving beyond historical tours or walking lectures to think about creative methods and how they can enhance a wide range of subject areas. Please bring an open mind and appropriate clothing to go for a wander in the local area.


Book your tickets for this event here.

This event is a part of the Community Learning Festival at Brooks MMU. For more info and to book other events click here. 

Community Event – 27-7-2016 -Noisy Toys Workshop at Brooks Community Learning Festival Tues 26th July

Working in groups we will complete various experiments with sound and electronics, building simple electronic instruments using circuits. Each group is given a Circuit Box, which contains useful bits of junk, salvaged from discarded computers.


We will learn how to easily make mechanical acoustic instruments from this treasure. Making new things out of junk is called ‘Upcycling’. We will experiment with basic components of circuitry and touch on electromagnetism and the workings of speaker drivers and electric motors. The sounds that we produce with our instruments can be changed, and we will explore the sonic possibilities that they offer.

We will, of course, also be testing each other’s noses and feeling 1000 watts of bass vibrations with our fingers.


This workshop is supported by EdLab as part of the 2016 Brooks Community Learning Festival.

To attend go to this link and register – Remember to choose the right day

EdLab Spark: ANTS!!

We have created an internet-connected leaf-cutter ants nest, based in MMUs John Dalton building. The nest generates a live-feed of both imagery and movement data (the ants trigger a counter as they pass key points in the nest) – and young people are able to suggest experiments around which this data will be formed (what happens if you play classical music at one end of the nest?).


The next step is to ‘educatify’ this resource: generating as many different forms of learning. These might range to direct study of the behaviour of ants, through to understanding scientific method, understanding of evolutionary traits – or cross disciplinary use of the ants as a stimuli (stories about the hive? Art produced using the data or imagery produced?).

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EdLab Spark: Paper Craft Circuits: Use Electronics as the Basis of Art

Explore ways in which simple materials such as copper tape and LEDs can be used as materials in the production of art, and develop ways in which this activity can form the basis of educational activity for children, young people and communities more widely. This will include the production of resources that can be used externally, and the development and implementation of pop-up and sustained workshops.


This project work grapples with way in which ‘Art’ and ‘Tech’ are related to each other in the move from ‘STEM’ to ‘STEAM’ subjects. There is a growing body of research which suggests that art (and ‘purpose’ more broadly), adds meaning to abstract STEM learning. In turn, this renders it more accessible and raises the likelihood of successful engagement by learners.

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Situate Yourself: Exploring Hulme Story Trails with Petrus Homeless Project

EdLab MMU and Community Arts North West have recently hosted a visit from Petrus Homeless project to the Brooks Building in Hulme. The visit inspired and supported 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.


To prepare, the EdLab MMU team worked with Hulme residents to create a mini-trail of Hidden Hulme. During the visit, this trail was explored to experiment with the use of mobile recording technologies, location aware, tagging and tracking technologies.


Photos: Lee Kirby

Mick Chesterman and James Duggan from the MMU shared advice on creating interactive, digital story trails for smart phones. Some of the key tips included.

  • Use simple to use, accessible tech (e.g. QR codes) and free Treasure Hunt apps for phones (e.g. Actionbound)
  • Always test your trails
  • You can integrate your codes into attractive designs to customise your trail
  • Go back and test some more

Mick Chesterman, EdLab MMU project developer shared:

For the test trail we took the approach of using low cost equipment to record local activities and stories in a simple but intimate way. Codes are then displayed where the videos were recorded which draws those doing the trail into new spaces, opening up new experiences and connections to an area.

More info:

The project page for Hidden is here –
The Petrus group will come back and share the results of their digital storytelling workshops at the Brooks Building on the 27th of July as part of the Community Learning Festival.



EdLab Spark: Create a non-linear support resource for Sonic Pi coding music software

Sonic Pi is computer software which creates music with simple lines of code. Designed by a ‘live coding’ enthusiast called Sam Aaron with the support of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, this simple but revolutionary approach has created a new way for young and adults alike to learn coding concepts in an extremely engaging (sometimes compulsive way).


In our Funologist experiments with Sonic Pi so far, we have found the most interesting results happen when participants do not have handouts telling them what to do. Providing them with a ‘linear’ hand out often means that those taking part follow the direction given to them rather than being led by their interest.

Conversely, a starting point and some quick references are handy.  As we ask more students to support Sonic Pi workshops, we need a non-linear resource to help the process.

We are very open to different suggestions but as a starting point we are thinking that a large poster with different areas and possibilities could be a good choice. This poster should be visually appealing, encourage experimental play and also be easy to print and to edit.

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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.

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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 Spark: Augmented Reality

Aurasma is a free ap which enables users to create simple augmented reality resources. Augmented reality is a way to make images come to life through the use of tablets and phones which are triggered by images to play videos, or 4D images. This project asks EdLab students to work with interested partners to create new applications for this simple to use technology. At present we have schools and libraries interested in using it for projects such as interactive book reviews. See here:

“Food science student Roxanna is interested in the applications for communicating healthy eating information.”