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?).
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.
We have teamed up with local primary school Divine Mercy to support them in engaging parents of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. The school would like students to develop short video style resources to help parents in supporting their preschool and early years children with skills development; especially with literacy and numeracy.
Recent MMU Graduate in Early Years and Childhood Studies, Leanne Clarke, will lead the project. The school are working towards guidelines for child development during this phase laid out by Department for Education in this document: