REEL success at St. Christopher’s School, Staverton

We were delighted to work with students at St. Christopher’s School n Staverton last month as part of our REEL programme – Renewable Energy Experiential Learning.

The programme includes student-led critical thinking around our global need for energy and takes place over 2 days. It involves site visits to see real technologies in action to produce renewable energy, followed by a making day in school, creating our own versions of renewable energy technology designs through arts and craft. It took place on 15th and 16th June.

Headmistress, Alexandra Cottell says;
“The children at St. Christopher’s hugely benefit from the input they have from the REEL project. Both the field trip and the on-site learning are very engaging and offer an excellent hands-on approach to STEM learning.”

On the field trip day we visited the Marley Head Wind Turbine, thanks to South Brent Community Energy; the Solar Farm and Woodfuel Boiler on the Dartington Estate, thanks to Dartington Trust; and the Totnes Weir Hydro thanks to Dart Renewables.

On the making day, we ran 3 workshops, solar, wind and hydro (experimenting with solar circuits, lemon batteries, multi meters, making Archimedes Screws and Savonious wind turbines).

Each REEL project supports joined up skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). REEL is now in its 5th year, has been delivered for free to over 10 schools and over 260 children have taken part.

‘REEL’ programme – St Christopher’s Pilot Project

Renewable Energy Experiential Learning (REEL) Programme –

‘Making Local Renewable Energy.’

Key Stage 2 Experiential Learning

Totnes Renewable Energy Society (Tresoc) has launched its ‘Renewable Energy Experiential Learning’ (REEL) programme, co-designed with The Bioregional Learning Centre to stimulate learning in local primary schools about renewable energy technologies and wider energy issues.

The programme’s intent is to bring relevance to energy generation by introducing the students to the hydro, solar and wind schemes that are right on their doorstep, generating electricity for local people.  It brings experts into the school environment – local organisations and businesses who specialize in technology, investment, sustainability, ecology, learning and sharing, including Hydrosense, Fishtek, Beco Solar, Regen, South Brent Community Energy Society and Dartington Hall Trust.

REEL kicks off with a 3-week pilot project for Key Stage 2 students at St Christopher’s Prep School Staverton that includes student-led critical thinking around our global need for energy, a making day to creatively explore the challenge of moving water uphill, building simple Archimedes screws as an exercise in cooperation and site visits to see the real technologies in action.  At the end of the programme the students will present what they have learned to family and friends.

Tresoc and The Bioregional Learning Centre will build in feedback from participants in the pilot project to develop the programme.  Our aim is to offer the REEL project to all the primary schools in the Totnes area and eventually extend it to key-stage 1, as well as key-stage 2. We believe that it is imperative we equip the coming generations with an understanding of renewable energy technologies, as these technologies will play a pivotal role in a low carbon future. Educating children about the potential of renewable energy technologies also gives them tangible way they can make a difference, when so many messages about climate change are disempowering.

Tresoc also hopes to be able to assist local schools to install solar panels that can help normalise renewable energy, raise awareness and be used as a teaching aid.

Overview of Pilot

School St. Christopher’s Primary School, Staverton, near Totnes.
Date June 2017
Skills Good listening, clear thinking, empathy.
Partner The Bio-regional Learning Centre.

Tresoc were able to make a short film about the great work we have been doing in the REEL project; thanks to a donation from an anonymous supporter. This will help to show potential sponsors and schools what the project is all about.

We are very pleased with the film and extremely grateful to Emilio from nu-project who produced it, to the Bio-Regional Learning Centre, who helped us design and deliver the project, to St Christopher’s Prep School for taking part in the pilot and also to all the people who contributed time and skills – Pete Kibble and FishTek, Owen Griffiths and BECO, South Brent Community Energy Society, Dartington Hall Trust, Chloe Udon and Jodie Giles and REGEN.

Please help us to publicise the project and share the video.

Isabel Carlisle of The Bioregional Learning Centre says:

“Sustainability is a very abstract idea to most children. Our goal with this project is to bring it home… we will share one jug of ‘oil’ between all the students who are imagining themselves as ‘objects’ with energy needs – we’ll see how far it goes!”

Head of St Christopher’s, Victoria Kennington, comments:

“We are very excited to be part of the REEL pilot project at St Christopher’s as we look to increase STEM opportunities – education in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics – for our pupils. Year 6 are looking forward to using their Science and Design and Technology skills over the course of this three week programme and learning more about the renewable energy projects in their neighbourhood.”

Dr. Sally Murrall-Smith of Tresoc adds:

“According to the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the annual shortfall of STEM skills in the workforce is 40,000. The REEL project seeks to encourage the development of STEM skills in young people, of both sexes, particularly through the development of spacial skills which are largely overlooked in our current education system, but closely linked to scientific ability.”

Jane Brady of The Bioregional Learning Centre, comments, “We have a unique mix of innovative businesses and entrepreneurs looking at new livelihoods in and around Totnes.  This project brings together that creativity in the context of renewable energy to inspire young people to see what’s all around them and why South Devon is a great place to be.  We would be delighted if any local investors would like to help us create a fund to help us evolve the REEL programme.”

So far, the REEL project has been funded by a donation and the RCEF grant that we received for Staverton Hydro Community Benefit Society. We now wish to continue the work and are exploring other funding options. One of these is to set up a fund. It costs about £1000 per school to run the project. Any ideas or contributions would be gratefully received.