Scavengers of Calderdale – Pilot Workshop

As part of a project that came out of an entry in the Calderdale Bootstrap Project, Scavengers of Calderdale is a joint project of Noisy Toys and EdLab MMU.

This opening pilot workshop at the Hackerspace in Hedben Bridge explore the possibilities offered by taking apart electronic waste and / or recycling computers to create Retro Arcade machines.

The “unmaking” of computers and other devices had a  really positive response. Getting CD drive motors working again was a real Frankenstein’s Monster moment (It’s Alive!).

We are going to work on a better link with building arcade consoles. But the ability to use computer insides to decorate the consoles with arcade game characters like PacMan was suggested. That could really work with Laser cut ply wood as a base!

The main attraction of playing the retro games is a good way of getting adults and kids bonding and creating a nice, informal “club” atmosphere as compared to a more formal learning workshop. That definitely has legs!

Photos Below From Doug Wier and Mick Chesterman

Making Arcade Consoles to Play Video Games

It was the last of our regular sessions with our Y4/5 Roll Crescent group of young people recently. So what better to do that play video games.

The learning element here was to use a combination of Arduino, Makey Makeys and authentic arcade buttons and joysticks to assemble DIY control panels.

It was also happening at the same time as the Playful Learning conference so there were plenty of other large scale games to play with as well.

This pilot was a good success. The joint motivation of really good quality electronic components and the final goal of playing retro games was irresistible for young and older alike!

EdLab Highlights of Community Learning Festival 2017

EdLab was happy to be able to contribute some key workshops aimed at children and families for the 2017 Summer Community Learning Festival in the Birley Building.

The festival is an idea way for us to develop our partnerships with local education providers and give us and our students an opportunity to try out new educational sessions.

Below are some photos and quick descriptions of some of the sessions we ran or supported.

Mono Printing and T-shirt creation

This was a session with a great buzz about it and fantastic feedback from families that came to it.

Developing “Usual Theatre in Unusual Spaces”

This was a fun and interactive imagineering session aimed to support young people to develop an interactive promenade theatre show. This involved sharing case studies where participants have been integral to shaping the project and sharing tactics on engaging audiences. This was planned by EdLab together with Jana Kennedy from Z-Arts and the teacher training Drama department at Man Met.

How do we talk to Aliens?

This was a session delivered by Lucy an Master student doing Science Communication. It was a hands on introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum – what is a radio wave and what are they used for? How do we communicate with outer-space? This interactive workshop allowed participants to build their own satellite, design your own alien, and learn some Physics.

Hulme Sweet Hulme A collaborative poem

A fantastic preview of Reel Mcr’s upcoming project. Make sure to look out for the premiere of this film poem and documentary.

Den Building with TASC

A great moment on Thursday, TASC really put the effort into getting great physical resources to support immersive play and creating environments.

Gizmobots Robot Making Workshop

Messy play at it’s best involving recycling waste electronic equipment into cute robots that participants can take home.

Pirate Pete’s Video Arcade

Another collaboration between EdLab and Becky and Alison from the Man Met’s Drama Education department. This was a new session using the appeal of retro video game arcades as an enticing way of then getting young people and families involved in the process of creating games. This was done via creating a dramatic situation where the young people had to save the Arcade.

Junk Percussion Workshop with Andrea Vogler

This is a fantastic hands on way to learn how to be part of a musical band. Andrea ran two sessions and many from the first came back to the second!

Food Find out and Create

This session led by student Roxanna is a very engaging way of learning about energy content of food and related issues of nutrition. It took place in the Food Lab of our building.

Science Education in the Early Years

LAB 0-6

This year we made an international connection with academics and students at UManresa in Spain. Associate professor Dr. Gabriel Lemkow-Tovías from UManresa was my guide, and is a key member of staff working on their early childhood science centre Lab 0-6. Lab 0-6 is a ‘discovery centre’ based in the university where children aged 0-6 can come and immerse themselves in a number of activities and contexts designed to stimulate scientific investigation, observation and conclusions in young children. They developed this facility because they felt that interactive activities for this age group were lacking. 

“Science is a tool for understanding the world
We aim to stimulate the natural curiosity of children and encourage their intervention reasoned reality.”

Science Nest

As a result of this specialist work, colleagues at Lab 0-6 were invited to collaborate on designing a space for young children in the natural history museum in Barcelona; Museo Blau. This space is similar in creating a warm and free environment for young children to explore scientific concepts and ideas, to observe, to experiment and to question. Staff said that one of the most important features of this space was to:

“Leave children with questions. Questions stimulate further exploration, answers provide an end point.


At EdLab we are committed to creating links with all kinds of professionals and communities concerned with innovative and creative education. This year we were able to facilitate a Skype meeting between students on our EdLab unit and academics at LAB 0-6. During this meeting students could ask questions and take a virtual tour of the facility. It is hoped that in the future we will be able to create simultaneous projects between students in Manchester and students at UManresa, developing, observing and comparing educational activities for EYFS children.

Visiting the Community Learning festival

In returning the visit, Gabriel will be coming to our Community Learning Festival held in Brooks Building Hulme from the 25th to the 27th of July. The Community Learning Festival, now in its second year, aspires to bring together the richness of our local community with the skills and facilities from within the university. There will be a full programme of free workshops and activities over the three days, aimed at all ages.

Gabriel will also be delivering a talk as part of the festival from 4-5.30pm on Wednesday the 26th of July in the Bio Social Lab, Brooks Building:

Discovering strategies and approaching new phenomena: the Lab 0_6 as a boost for new questions:
Learning about new phenomena and dealing with emerging enquiries is something children deal with on a daily basis. However not always the phenomena or enquiries that adults find interesting or useful is so fascinating for children. We will present and discuss some situations where children might find a different approach in dealing with new possible knowledge as well as some of the strategies that children might use to respond to these new situations.


More Places and Spaces

You may also be interested in Escola Itaca which is a primary schoool in Manresa entirely based in project-based learning, and the science museum in Barcelona, Cosmocaixa, where they have a similar project-based learning context called Creactivity.

“Brave Ideas”: Facilitating Year 9 Girls Tinkering with Code Bugs

As a result of an earlier project aimed at widening the participation of girls in science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) subjects EdLab facilitated a follow up tinkering session at Whalley Range High School with Year 9 girls. To do this we took along mini codable LED devices called Code Bugs, and engaged the girls in a 90 minute competition to create an interactive page from a children’s book.

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Create a One Page Wonder Website Workshop at HCGC

The key message for this workshop was Keep it Simple. We wanted to avoid over complicated processes when creating a website for a new project. To do the workshop was divided into three parts. 

  1. Chat about us and our experiences with websites
  2. Generate ideas on paper and talk about an upcoming project that would need a website
  3. Play with technology that will allow us to share these ideas


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Children’s Reading On Screen: RSA Catalyst Grant for Manchester Metropolitan University

This article is reposted from The RSA website to increase reach. Written by: Natalia Kucirkova FRSA

Sharing books with young children is known to be one of the most enriching and educationally beneficial activities that parents can do with their young children at home.

Shared book reading is typically associated with a parent and child sitting down snuggled together with a printed book. However, increasingly, printed books are being replaced with digital books downloaded on a reading device such as a tablet or Kindle, and in many families a quiet bedtime reading routine is becoming more akin to watching TV or playing a video game.

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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


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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

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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.

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EdLab Pupils review Science Books for the Royal Society

Year 5 pupils from Rolls Crescent working with EdLab were asked by the Royal Society to review six children’s science books. Working in pairs pupils took the books home in order to give them an in-depth examination, and then returned for a group review led by our science communication lecturer Dr Sam Illingworth.

The children enjoyed the challenge, and debated enthusiastically to come up with a final winner. Across the four judging categories David Macaulay’s ‘How Machines work’ came out top. This children enjoyed its interactive nature, and the way in which the science was communicated through the story.

For more information, and details of all the books go to the Royal Society’s website:


Junk Percussion workshop by Andrea Vogler

Join Northern Chamber Orchestra’s percussionist Andrea Vogler for a participatory session composing and performing music using an exciting array of junk percussion instruments.




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 – 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