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Cisco hosts ‘Dragon’s Den’ App Challenge for Girls in IT Day

Cisco, the global networking technology company, hosted a Dragon’s Den themed challenge for local year 8 (aged 12-13) school girls at its south-west London HQ in Feltham.

The event was part of the company’s international Girls in IT Day, held simultaneously at a number of Cisco offices around the world – including Lebanon, Kenya, the Netherlands and Portugal. After a talk from senior Cisco spokespeople and an interactive tour of Cisco’s office, including a sneak peak at some futuristic technology, the school girls were asked a specific question – what would you connect to the internet and why? Inspired by a day learning about Cisco’s take on the ‘Internet of Everything’, a hyper-connected world of devices in an internet-like structure, the students were split in to five teams. Each group was given 20 minutes to plan, and five minutes to present their ideas – including how much money they needed from the dragons, and for what percentage of the business!

Considering the short time frame and the openness of the question, the quality of the ideas produced was remarkable. App ideas included: • The E-mirror - an internet-connected mirror - which allows you to virtually try on clothes before buying, or a new hair style before visiting the barbers

• The MotoChair 3000 - which allows doctors and teachers to send information (and control the whereabouts!) of patients or pupils

• Track-e – a mouldable, internet connected house or car key that allows you to track its whereabouts at all time and change its shape should it be stolen or lost

After an intense pitch-off, the five-strong dragon panel, consisting of senior Cisco executives and a representative from Dell, took a break to discuss the ideas – knowing they could only invest in one. The winning idea, a unanimous decision by the Dragons, was:

Neck-ring –an internet-connected necklace that plays music through your body, making headphones redundant, saving you from the hassle of carrying them around or regularly replacing. The e-jewellery can also be connected and controlled using your mobile phone. The judges were particularly impressed by the team’s marketing plan – including celebrity partners and a limited edition diamond version!

Hannah Wright, Head of Security at Cisco Systems, and one of the ‘Dragons’ judging the entries, commented: “The level of ingenuity and creativity was so impressive. The girls across all the teams really brought the business and technology sides of the challenge together – showing an understanding of not just how the technology might work, but also how they could take it to market.

“A great time was had by all throughout the day. I’d like to thank the teachers and parents for their support and all the students who took part, many of who probably hadn’t considered technology as a future career before today, who will now continue their journey exploring the industry’s exciting and ever-expanding opportunities.”

Whitmore Park Primary School opens new building

Whitmore Park Primary School has opened a new primary education facility on its existing site in Coventry. The project is the first to be completed under the government’s £2.4 billion Priority Schools Building Programme. Mott MacDonald is providing technical advisory and cost consultancy services to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) which is implementing the programme.

The new 3,300 sq m primary school and nursery is part of the first batch of priority schools in the Midlands. This includes the rebuild of four primary schools, one secondary school and a broad spectrum special school, delivering a total of 3,687 pupil places.

Mott MacDonald undertook a feasibility study to determine cost and developed technical procurement documentation. The team also provided technical review of the contractor's design proposals and supported the EFA during the procurement, commissioning and construction phases. The consultancy continues to deliver technical advisory services to another 88 schools across the programme. David Sheard, Mott MacDonald’s technical director, said: “The new building replaces the existing school which was proving costly to maintain and operate. Mott MacDonald has an excellent knowledge of the design requirements for educational buildings, which enabled us to work successfully with the EFA, local authority and school. The new facility will provide a much improved learning and working environment for students and staff.”

Mollie, aged 7, overcomes struggle with literacy with LEGO® Education StoryStarter

Seven year old Mollie is a Key Stage 2 pupil from St John’s Primary School in Surrey who struggled with literacy for a couple of years, resulting in a lack of all-round confidence and a fear of simple reading and writing which also understandably worried her parents. Mollie’s school then introduced LEGO® Education StoryStarter – an innovative new learning tool that combines real life LEGO® bricks and figures with unique computer software, improving reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, all while having fun. By embracing StoryStarter, Mollie went from being fearful and anxious of literacy to enjoying the process and used the tool to create and narrate a story full of imagination and creativity - this helped to make a real difference both to her literacy learning and her overall enjoyment of school. She also had the confidence to be filmed narrating and creating her story.

LEGO® Education StoryStarter is the helping hand that kick-starts pupils’ creativity and boosts their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills at Key Stages 1 and 2. Pupils work together to create and build stories with LEGO bricks and figures, then use the unique StoryVisualizer Software to visualise, write and communicate their work. StoryStarter is a hands-on tool that also inspires students to collaborate while creating and communicating their stories. It is an innovative way of teaching a wide range of essential skills, including: • Literacy skills, improving writing, language, and reading abilities • Collaboration skills and pupils’ ability to work in teams • Comprehension skills and enabling pupils to compose new stories or analyse existing ones • Integrating the use of digital tools via the unique StoryVisualizer Software To see Mollie’s story, please go to school/lower-primary/6plus-storystarter/mollies-story

10 June 2014

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