Spark Lab
Spark Lab

Continuing our approach to large scale, immersive learning; the Spark Lab was designed by our Digital Support Officer, Mr McCowen, to be an exciting, dynamic and interactive environment, delivering a bespoke curriculum focused on developing soft skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, risk-taking and resilience by providing pupils the freedom to explore concepts and technologies not usually made available to them.

As an immersive coding environment, the Spark Lab aims to inspire the learners of today to become the visionaries of tomorrow by introducing them to concepts such as programming, robotics,  engineering, 3D printing and virtual reality.

Content can be sent wirelessly to either of the Apple TV equipped 65” screens installed on the main wall, allowing collaborative work to take place in groups that are realistically too large to be gathered around a single iPad.

"The Spark Lab is Brilliant! I've really learnt a lot about things like the Archimedes' Principle by building my own robot powered ship. I love experimenting."

Year 3 Pupil

A range of robots are available to be coded and piloted, introducing concepts of physical technologies such as gyroscopic motion and transfer protocols, but also coding methods including commands, functions, variables, loops and operators. By designing, building and programming these robots, students learn and develop communication, teamwork, resilience, creativity and critical and computational thinking skills as they constantly follow a core loop of designing, building, testing and refining their solution to scalable challenges.

Spark Lab

This approach to learning allows all levels of ability to experience the same work at the same time, with differentiation and success criteria being personalised and refined by pupils in real time, based on what they are experiencing.

"The Spark Lab is my favourite classroom, I have learnt all about physics and energy transfer by designing Rube Goldberg machines on my iPad with Sketches School and then building them. It was so much fun."

Year 5 Pupil

Spark Lab
Pupils discover and use ‘disruptive technology’. One such technology, 3D printing, has the potential to revolutionise our world on a scale previously only achieved by the Internet. We recognise this potential and are preparing our pupils for the future by allowing them to build a foundation of understanding with one of the world’s most exciting technological developments.
In addition, we use the technology to augment existing lessons, printing 3D models of artefacts and fossils that pupils have viewed online, from such institutes as the Smithsonian and Natural History Museum, in order to further their understanding of the subject by allowing them to interact with the object physically.
All of the equipment in the Spark Lab is designed to be controlled via iPad, which acts as the ‘glue’ holding everything together. With multiple products, allowing a wide range of differentiation strategies, the Spark Lab is designed to teach pupils that everyone can code, no matter what their starting point may be.
Spark Lab
The equipment and bespoke progression pathway we have created for delivery in the Spark Lab allows our pupils flexibility when solving coding challenges. We are able to teach our pupils on a ‘stage, not age’ approach, using block based and text based coding languages, including Swift code via the Swift Playgrounds app and integrated support for Sphero and Dash and Dot; we are even able to ensure that every learner will learn the core concepts of coding as we can program some of our equipment using just coloured pens and paper.

"When creating the Spark Lab, I decided to combine my passion for computing, gamification of learning objectives and science. I love teaching in the Spark Lab - delivering my own curriculum - covering a range of topics including physics, coding and engineering."

Mr McCowen, creator of the Spark Lab & Apple Distinguished Educator

Spark Lab
Pupils can elect to complete challenges using either block based or text based code, solving problems in steps or creating a longer algorithm, as well as choosing from a range of robotics products.
The most important aspect that facilitates and encourages personalised learning in the Spark Lab is that there is no predefined ‘correct’ way of completing the task set, with pupils encouraged to ‘Think Differently’ to achieve their goals.
In addition to coding, the Spark Lab is designed to easily integrate other areas of the curriculum, such as science. One of our projects teaches pupils the basics of the Archimedes’ Principle, then challenges them to apply this knowledge to the creation of a Sphero powered boat which must be coded to carry cargo across a body of water. As part of this challenge, pupils learn about water displacement and its relationship to buoyancy, engineering principles, properties of materials including density and how friction can both help and hinder the ability of their prototype to move through the water. Another project focuses on physics, equipping pupils with knowledge of energy type, conservation and transfer by allowing them to experiment with and build Rube Goldberg inspired chain reaction machines.

Working on real world concepts such as physics, engineering and practical use of robotics equips pupils with essential skills that will help them to take their education further once they leave Howard Junior, gives them an appreciation of the world around them, develops their ability to work both individually and as part of a team, break down problems in to manageable pieces and evaluate the success of their own work; all useful skills not only for education, but for their everyday lives as well.

Spark Lab

Our Equipment

A Small Selection

Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab

"In the Spark Lab, the iPad is at the centre of the experience, acting as the glue that holds everything together. Without iPad & iMac, the Spark Lab simply wouldn't exist, the flexibility of these products - particularly iPad - has made it in to a reality."

Mr McCowen, creator of the Spark Lab & Apple Distinguished Educator

Spark Lab
Spark Lab
Spark Lab