The IT Crowd

Date Posted: 23/12/2014

After Generation X and Y comes Generation I-pad. Here are a few of the best ICT-related trips to inspire the digitally-minded.

A recent survey by communications regulator Ofcom revealed that 54 per cent of children aged eight to 11 and three-quarters of 12 to 15-year-olds have three or more digital, media or communications devices of their own.

Information and communications technology is a part of everyday life, and in addition to entertainment, it plays an important role in education. Children need to be adept at working with ICT in order to be successful in their future careers.

“ICT in education is the key to unlocking the skills and knowledge of our future generations of young people. It is the tool for learning in the 21st century,” said Kate McKenzie, a member of the ICT association Naace which comprises teachers, school leaders and consultants involved in all fields of UK education.

Here are ten destinations that take technology out of the classroom and bring it to life in diverse and stimulating environments.

Bletchley Park

The historic mansion that was the site of secret British code breaking activities during World War Two, Bletchley Park continuously develops its education programme and provides a wide array of workshops for all ages that cover STEM-based curriculum subjects.

For primary schools there is also the dedicated computer session Secrecy and Security: Keeping Safe Online, and new for secondary schools are online safety days to learn about cyber threats.

Also located at the park, with separate admission, is the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC). The independent charity houses the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer. Visits include a presentation on arrival, museum tour and choice of activities in the BBC computer room.  

Crich Tramway Village

On the edge of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park, this restored period village is home to the National Tramway Museum with exhibits from horse-drawn trams through the steam years and to the electric trams of the 1960s.

The village offers students a wealth of opportunities to explore and enhance their ICT work. They can take on the role of marketing specialists tasked to produce a web page promoting the museum to a specific audience.

This can be young people like themselves, families or older people. A member of staff provides the brief and answers any initial queries and students then work in teams. 

The village also offers educational trails and the highlight of any visit is a ride on a tram down the cobbled high street.

London Eye

A ride on the London Eye is a real highlight during a visit to London. The Discovery Tour provides an insight on the surrounding landmarks, and can now be tailored towards subjects linked directly to the downloadable school resources.

The KS1 and KS2 pack investigates rivers and ICT themes include online research in order to complete the worksheets. Similarly, the subject is incorporated into the KS3 worksheet where pupils have to design a capsule for the London Eye.

School bookings include free entry into the 4D show, which groups are recommended to visit before the ride, and this brings London to life with multi-sensory effects such as bubbles and wind. Many schools also combine a trip with the London Eye river cruise, which can be booked through the education team.

Thorpe Park

Excitement and education go hand in hand at Thorpe Park in Surrey. Working in collaboration with teachers and educational advisers, the theme park has created a programme of workshops, events and activities for KS3 to KS5.

The 45-minute workshops can be adapted to suit different requirements and downloadable resources are available to help with planning.

Groups will learn how ICT is utilised and the vital role it plays in the day to day running of the theme park, making sure visitors are safe and thrilled in equal measure.

The ICT workshop also looks at ride design, how the business is operated online and how it is promoted through social media. Afterwards pupils can head for the 27 rides, including the new Angry Birds 4D experience. 

Chill Factore

Take your studies to new heights with a visit to Chill Factore, home to the UK’s longest indoor skiing and snowboarding slope. Situated four miles from Manchester city centre, next to the Trafford Centre and M60, Chill Factore offers ICT talks for KS3 and KS4.

Pupils will learn how ICT works in different departments at the complex, including call handling, the booking system, internal and external technology and web use.

All educational talks are followed by an hour on the snow. In addition to a ski or snowboarding lesson, teachers can opt for other exhilarating activities including tubing, sledging and air boarding on a special air inflated board.

An added bonus is that pupils who show little interest in school sports tend to thoroughly enjoy the sessions.

Paultons Park

Professor Blast’s Learning Lab provides a perfect location for ICT studies at Paultons Park in Hampshire. The dedicated ICT workshop, for KS3 and KS4 provides an understanding of ICT in the real world, by looking at different uses of ICT around the park and how it has benefited the attraction as a business.

For KS2 and KS2 pupils the fun-filled ride programming session allows pupils to work in pairs with a laptop and a mini version of the park’s skyswinger ride in order to programme their very own ride. Afterwards, they can have a go on the real thing.

The lab is equipped with interactive workstations and can host groups of up to 35. The education department also offers bespoke programmes to meet the needs of individual groups and match the age of the students.

Drusillas

Animal records and breeding programmes are among the many uses for ICT at Drusillas in East Sussex. The talk, for pupils aged 13 and over, demonstrates how ICT is an integral part of the zoo park, whether enhancing the visitor experience, maintaining animal enclosures or improving the efficiency of the business.

The session looks at how technology is applied in functions such as animatronics, timers and speeds sensors, the use of databases and spreadsheets and how Google Analytics measures activity on the website.

Visits also include an in-depth tour of the park, usually with the opportunity to stroke a snake and touch a cockroach! The talks and tours are available from September to April and school groups can also use the park’s catering facilities. 

Legoland Windsor Resort

KS2 and KS3 pupils can immerse themselves in the world of technology at this fun and fact-filled theme park. The Dr Heartbeat Workshop brings ICT alive outside the classroom by using a unique and specially designed version of the Lego Mindstorms nxt software.

Students put their problem solving skills to the test to complete a number of life-saving operations. The Computer Design and Control session, for the same age group, utilises Lego WeDo technology to enable pupils to build and programme an interactive model.

The session covers ICT terminology and touches on the need for computers in everyday life. Naturally, the day can be combined with the chance to enjoy some of the park’s interactive rides and attractions. www.legoland.co.uk

Cadbury World

The delights of Birmingham’s Cadbury World need little introduction from the chocolate point of view, and the attraction is always guaranteed to engage a student’s attention.

More than 2,000 school groups visited during the last academic year, and talks for KS4 include a dedicated ICT session that covers topics including electronic communication, how and where ICT is used at Cadbury, process control, retail and booking systems and viral marketing. Workbooks can be downloaded to complement the visit.

The Cadbury World Experience is divided into different zones packed with information about the history, making and manufacture of chocolate. There is a new 4D cinema experience, with motion seats, that incudes diving into a bowl of liquid chocolate and taking to the skies in an air ship.

Spinnaker Tower

Opened in 2005, the 170m Spinnaker Tower has become an established part of the Portsmouth landscape. Working in association with educational advisors, the attraction has created a range of curriculum-based downloadable worksheets to enhance visits.

Terrific Towers, suitable for all Key Stages, focuses on ICT, Art and Maths, and can be used before and after a visit to the tower. In addition to information on the Spinnaker Tower, pupils have to collect facts about other towers around the world using the Internet as a research tool.

They learn how to use search engines and web links effectively, and the final outcome is to produce a poster, using ICT equipment and software, that could be sold in the tower gift shop. 

School Travel Organiser's Guide