Case study: Kent school hosts UK’s first primary school Mozilla Maker Party

Staplehurst School Maker Party

Back in July, when many schools were thinking about the summer break and GCSE results, Su Adams, IT Technician at Staplehurst School in Tonbridge, was inviting students from across Kent to a ‘U Can Too’ Mozilla Maker Party.
Designed to encourage people to create digital products and share their experiences with others, Mozilla Maker Parties are a great opportunity for students to try their hands at emerging technologies, as well as activities they may not otherwise be exposed to.

Explaining why she chose to host the UK’s first ever primary school Mozilla Maker Party, Su comments:

“I wanted to highlight how exciting the new curriculum is and to encourage the use of a range of free tools alongside commercial products to help our students become digital makers rather than just users. With a less prescribed, more open curriculum, there are great opportunities for our teachers to try out exciting technology and really inspire their students.”

Su is no stranger to hosting such initiatives, with a Code Club and Website Club already firmly established and returning positive results in the school, and a Digital Leader initiative which is currently in development.

A two-day event, U Can Too included presentations by teachers as well as external companies, and activities for students to take part in. During the first day, students utilised Mozilla X-Ray Goggles to familiarise themselves with how websites are composed before being encouraged to ‘hack and rewrite’ the Staplehurst School website. Graphic design company The Creative Workshop donated it’s time to show students how to use online tools to create and produce appealing packaging. They also inspected graphical elements of websites and print materials, before students were introduced to the free visual programming tool, Scratch, to help them with their own creations.

On the first day of the U Can Too Mozilla Maker Party, animation experts
Zu3D offered special workshops for students to take part in

In contrast to the structured array of activities that day one revolved around, day two of the Mozilla Maker Party was an open ‘free for all’ where students could drop in and try out any technology they liked the look of, for as much or as little time as suited them. One of the biggest hits of the event was animation software, Zu3D, which provided special drop in sessions following their workshops which took place on day one of the event.

Referring to the history between Staplehurst School and Zu3D, Su comments:

“We only purchased Zu3D last year but we have been amazed at the ways our students have taken to it. The system is very easy to navigate – with everything in one place – and can be used by absolute beginners as well as seasoned experts due to the more advanced features Zu3D can offer.”

Designed to inspire creativity through a simple, yet feature rich user interface, Zu3D can be used across the curriculum.

During the U Can Too Mozilla Maker Party, students created Zu3D animations using Duplo and Lego characters, rather than the traditional plasticine models. Zu3D’s green-screen technology also enabled them to superimpose a variety of backgrounds onto their animations, while the inbuilt audio helped to bring the short videos to life.

Sharing the school’s plans for its future uses of Zu3D, Su says:

“Over the coming year, we will be using Zu3D across a variety of lessons to teach a whole range of topics. For instance, Year 2 is currently working on a pirate theme. In their lessons, students will be creating pirate based animations which will cover art (creating the characters, backdrops, and props), music (the background audio), literacy (the story), maths (calculating prop sizes) and design and technology (building the props). It is the ability to use the product across a range of lessons – and the creativity that it inspires – that really appeals to me.”

Su continues:

“Judging by how popular Zu3D was during our Mozilla Maker Party, it is clear that it will be a valuable and exciting tool for the year ahead.”

To find out more about Zu3D, click here.

Staplehurst School’s Mozilla Maker Party was accessed by more than 450 students over the two event days, making it a huge success for both the school and its students. Never one to rest on her laurels, Su is already planning another U Can Too Mozilla Maker Party to coincide with Code Week UK in October, whilst also continuing to grow the school’s popular Website Club and Code Club. Su will also be presenting the Digital Leaders initiative at two major events in London.

Zu3D will be exhibiting on Stand C159 at Bett 2015, which takes place from 21 to 24 January at ExCeL London.

To see more upcoming education technology events, visit the bee-it events calendar here!