The Reconnect Project
For eight weeks Year 8 students have been invited to spend a little less time on their electronic devices as part of The Reconnect Project that we have run at the college and that I have reported on in previous blogs. I have included some of their reflections below – they make for interesting reading.
Student 1: I used to spend at least 4 hours in an evening on YouTube and on Facebook but since the participating in the Reconnect Project, I have reduced this to only 1 hour and I switch my phone off at least an hour before I go to sleep. I’m socialising more with friends and I’m getting to sleep easier on a night.
Student 2: I have enjoyed taking part in the Reconnect Project during CDM lessons, we have been working in groups and carrying out debates. I have presented to the class and I feel more confident speaking out in front of an audience now. It has helped me and I will continue to reduce the amount of time I use/look at screens.
Student 3: I used to play computer games every night and I never went out to socialise with my friends, but the Reconnect Project has encouraged me to get out more and socialise with people face to face. I feel better in myself and I feel a bit happier. I am going to continue this even though we’ve finished the project.
The results echo those of others who have taken part in project in other schools. "Better conversation" was high on the list of positives reported by the 1,500 pupils who have participated in the programme so far. They also reported improvements in family life, sleep and homework, amongst other benefits. Although they spent an average of three hours a day on their screens, a significant number of the students who took part said they were regularly online for six, seven or even more than eight hours a day before the project. Many believed they were "addicted". However, many were also surprised to find that spending time offline wasn’t as hard as they anticipated.
The ethos of the experiment is not anti-technology – the benefits of online connectivity are obvious. However, it’s a question of balance. When students spend too much time looking at their screens other areas of their life can suffer and there is a knock-on effect in terms of health, happiness, friendships, concentration and employability. We hope that, by taking part in this project, the students involved now become active users (rather than passive consumers) of technology.
Maths Challenge Prize Evening
Last week two students from Minsthorpe, Ella and Cobey were invited, along with their families, to the Maths Challenge Prize Evening held at the University of Leeds. Aimed at mathematically able and enthusiastic students, the original challenge was set to be completed at home during the February Half Term.
The May event was a prize winning ceremony for both the Junior and Senior Half Term Maths Challenge and a chance to celebrate the outstanding entries of the students who won. This is the eighth year that the competition has run in our region and it received over 650 entries.
Ella and Cobey were both awarded a Certificate from the University for Merit in the Junior section and also won a book of their choice. Minsthrorpe was the only school from Wakefield represented at the event – all of the others were from the Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees area. We are so proud of both students – this was some achievement!
The Appliance of Science
Year 8 students held their annual Science Fair on Thursday May 25th. This is the third Fair that I have attended and it was, by far, the best I have ever seen. Lots of proud parents also turned up to see their sons and daughter explain some very complex scientific phenomena and the quality of the student presentations was incredible and the models they had made to illustrate their research simply outstanding. Well done to everyone involved, it was an absolute privilege for me to judge the work.
Words cannot describe those who carried out the cowardly attack on unarmed children on Monday night and then dare to call themselves ‘soldiers’ so I will not waste them on people who cannot see how evil they have become. However, words can describe the magnificent response of the people of Manchester in the immediate aftermath of this terrorist attack. The incredible humanity of the taxi drivers who worked through the night in order to get people to where they needed to be and reunited with their loved ones and the selfless people who offered shelter to those who were lost and in need of help. The dedication of the medics who poured into the hospitals to help the injured and wounded and all of the members of the public who queued up to give blood. Thankfully, the people of Manchester have shown us what true humanity is.