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Education > Case Study: Firstborn Creatives

Heading – Firstborn Creatives

I Can Dream

19 year 3 pupils at Cabot Primary, 21 year 8 students at City Academy
40 participants – April to July 2006

This project helped to address the question: How can we engage young people from the inner city and in particular those from ethnic minority backgrounds in learning about Brunel?

First Born Creatives proposed linking with Cabot Primary and students at City Academy to engage them in a series of challenges and activities that reflected Brunel’s creativity and entrepreneurship. To do this they would meet and work with present day inspirational innovators who have made their mark in business and design. Jake Siddique, inventor of a case for the iPod and Tim Paddock inventor of the ‘mountain board’ acted as mentors to the groups.

Over the course of the project the pupils investigated technological innovation and the skills and qualities needed by successful entrepreneurs. Throughout the project they learned about the process of developing a product from research and planning through to final marketing. They then developed their own ideas to launch onto the marketplace. Jake and Tim’s involvement as mentors was key to the success of the project and made a big impact on the pupils.

“The pupils still talk about it now and I feel that they have developed a new approach and understanding of the whole design process. They were also all extremely proud to have their work recognised.” Kathryn Fuller, teacher Cabot Primary

The pupils’ work is showcased on, a website celebrating the project which also serves as a lasting resource for other schools to draw upon. The residency connected with one of the overall aims of Brunel 200 – ‘To encourage the young Brunel’s of the future’.

For more information about the work of Firstborn Creatives, visit their website at:

Firstborn Creatives’ evaluation

Feedback from Kathryn Fuller-Cabot Primary:
“The year 3 class involved in the project thought it was great! There was a good mix of discussion, workshops and trips. The children were inspired by the inventor, Jake- showing that an inventor doesn’t always have to be a scientist! Both Rob and Amy (project leaders) were very encouraging throughout, and the pupils were all keen to work with them. The project was broken down into sections from initial design to filming their advert which visually supported the progression of their inventions. The pupils still talk about it now and i feel that they have developed a new approach and understanding of the whole design process. They were also all extremely proud to have their work recognised. Overall a great success.”

Vannesa Pinnington – City Academy:
”The group that were chosen to work with Brunel were a challenging and bright group of students who we thought would appreciate doing something different. Most of them grasped the idea with great enthusiasm and worked well with both the Brunel staff and myself and Keith to ensure that they planned and completed their inventions on time. A few were a little despondent at the beginning, mainly due to the decision about whose idea to use but with the help of the Brunel staff, overcame their initial problems and completed their inventions. The Brunel staff must be commended for their patience and motivation throughout the project. When we all met on 19th July, the students really enjoyed the presentations, the visit to At-Bristol and couldn't wait to collect their certificates so that they could take them home to show parents/carers. They were very grateful and enjoyed the whole experience. On behalf of The City Academy, Bristol, I would like to thank all of you for your time, enthusiasm and patience! It would be lovely to work with you again.”

Firstborn Creatives – Rob Mitchell/Shawn Sobers:
“The Brunel 200 experience with Cabot and City Academy schools was very fulfilling and valuable. It was really insightful to compare City Academy with Cabot, where the teacher controlled the discipline totally in the primary school. In the secondary school there was a bit of a fight sometimes to get some of the adolescents to carry out tasks related to the project. A lot of the issues seemed to be around the choosing of ideas to pursue. As we got going, it was clear that they were liking the project, though the occasional lethargy seemed to creep in on the back of general peer pressures about not being over-keen. In the end however, supported by the teachers, and by some strange forces, they all managed to get their tasks completed as required. Clearly it was much easier for some to see what the possibilities were after they could see their peers’ projects developing.

I had hoped that the secondary school group would have engaged more with the science in their inventions. Even the group on hover technology. While it may have seemed fantastical, a recent issue of New Scientist (Aug 06) has a cover story about just that possibility. ‘The End of Wings and Wheels’ – September 2006

The Cabot children engaged with the inventing bit really well. While they at age 7/8 (year 3) were not engaged in the deep science, they were happy to do something different which followed on from work they had been doing in class on Brunel with bridges etc.

The main class teacher Kathryn Fuller, and the classroom support crew (Safia Boston, Pauline Edwards-Samuels and Manny) were very committed to the project despite an overwhelming schedule of other activities for the class and the term. It is always amazing to see what teachers can do with a few egg boxes and some blu-tac and once again I have to sing the praises of Kathryn Fuller and crew for their creativity in working with the class to make the prototypes of the inventions. Just amazing. Total creativity here.

In the City Academy the prototyping was made up with a couple of cardboard boxes and acetates. This was the inventiveness of Sam Thompson and Rob who supported the project and lent a huge boost of energy and enthusiasm to the year 9 session in the Academy when it seemed we were flagging a bit. This aspect of having a number of ‘outsiders’ to the project is really interesting as it gives the children opportunities to make new relationships each time with people who do not judge them according to established expectations and patterns of behaviour. The outsiders that came in: Shawn, Rob, Amy, Jake, Tim, Sam, Rob

Though our focus was not on the history of IK Brunel as a figure, we approached it from the idea of invention and innovation. This excited us much more that what would otherwise have been ancestral worship.

There was always a tussle in each group about their choice of invention, and some debate about whether they should be 'realistic' or 'fantastical'. From both schools, there is a fair mix of the two, and clearly no absence of creativity.

The project started with inventors, Jake Sadiq and Tim Paddock coming to give a talk on those themes: innovation and invention, and the end session in at-Bristol brought them back to look at, and judge their ideas that had been formulated. The pupils were certainly inspired by this 'live' element to the process which suggested that being an ‘inventor' was still possible today. The celebration event was fantastic and it was great to have Andrew Kelly as our civic celebrity. to give out the certificates. All of this raised the game and the sense of importance for the group. (Later that day, we later spied a couple of the winners showing off their hard-won certificates to friends, from our office window overlooking a park used by City Academy students)

Amy Feneck was a very good support for getting the media elements produced, and we really enjoyed the work that Chris Barnett had done with the music and the edits to make the little films for the website which is a showcase for the work. We’d like to thank them as well as Louise Lynas, who did great job for us co-ordinating and supporting across the project.

The URL (I can dream) suggests what our focus of the project was. We would be very keen to work with Cabot school and the academy again, on any project that could bring alternative ways of engaging with possible curriculum subjects. The approach we chose turned out to be an interesting mix of science and arts/media.

We had hoped for more science/technology insights from the secondary group, but have no regrets about not focusing on the Brunel biographicals.”