Bridge21 2013/14

The Multinationalists hard at work!

2013/14 has been another fantastic year for Bridge21. We’ve worked with more students and teachers than ever before and we’re ready to launch a major new initiative in 2014/15.

1,400+ students

More than 1,400 students took part in our diverse range of programmes since August 2013.

  • Almost 800 1st year students from 15 schools took part in workshops both in Oriel House and back in their own classrooms. We also worked with over 220 teachers from those schools and helped many of them create Bridge21-style activities and lessons to teach subjects across the curriculum.
  • Over 250 TY’s from 11 schools each took part in at least one week-long programme with us this year. 166 of those took part in our TY Core Programme which included multimedia projects, research and presentation work, all with a big emphasis on learning as part of a team and developing communication skills.
  • Over 100 students completed our CS-TY programme, in partnership with the School of Computer Science and Statistics here in TCD, which introduced them to computing through projects involving robotics, animation and game design.
  • 54 students took part in our Learning Circles workshop during which they got to talk about how they like to learn and then try to put these ideas into practice by learning a Leaving Cert topic (without a teacher!) and then creating interesting learning experiences to teach their peers.
  • Another TY programme focussed on Language Learning. By running simultaneous workshops in Bridge21 and in Mulfingen (Germany), Irish and German students were able to speak to each other each day via Skype (and Whatsapp and Snapchat) and work together to complete projects in each others’ languages.

Computer Science at Bridge21

Many students took part in more than one of these workshops during the year, which extended their exposure to the Bridge21 model and allowed them to develop personal and technical skills. They worked with such enthusiasm and tackled any challenge we presented to them head-on, and most importantly with a sense of determination and fun.

We’re thrilled to report that the students seemed to have a good time and to learn a lot, as these statistics from our student surveys reveal:

  • 98% of students rated their experience at Bridge21 as excellent or good.
  • 86% said they had increased confidence with technology.
  • 90% said they had an improved attitude to teamwork.
  • 92% said they had improved communication/presentation skills.
  • 87% said they had increased independence.
  • 76% said that they had an improved attitude to education.

Student feedback

We asked the TY students to comment on their time with Bridge21….

“I found it very good there was no time during this week I felt excluded or that what I did wasnt right or good enough”

“We were given a opportunity to learn new things such as team work, computer skills and presentation skills through technology. The fact is that the future is technology and students aren’t being taught through it which really doesn’t make sense. That’s the main reason I would rate the experience as excellent.”

“I feel this way because I become more confident in myself I would never talk in front of a big group but now I’m ok with it.” 

“Because I made new friends, because more confident, and it showed me that there are better and more interesting ways to learn.”

“The mentors and Kevin could not have been more friendly and helpful.”

“This for me has been the highlight of the year for me and maybe the best week of my life.”

These students also took part in pilot programmes including History, Maths, Physics, Mental Health, Art and Design and advanced computing including Python programming, Raspberry Pi and Arduino.  They were all recognised at our annual TY programme graduation ceremony in the Old Dining Hall with many receiving awards for their outstanding work during the year.

Dr Jake Byrne presented the certs at graduation.

Our team of volunteer mentors was stronger than ever this year. We had a great mix of 3rd level students and graduates and they brought all their skills and experience to help with whatever challenges they faced. They were a huge support to the students and the Bridge21 team and it would have been impossible to achieve what we did this year without their help. It was a big year for several of the mentor team too. Laura and Danny moved on to exciting jobs, Niall and Lar completed their degrees and will graduate later this year and Shane and Stephen (two former Bridge21 students) took a step up from mentoring and led a five day programme as part of the TAP Summer School. Along with Shane and Stephen, it was wonderful to see so many former Bridge21 students who have made the leap to 3rd level education and are now part of the mentor team and inspiring younger students to follow in their footsteps. If you’re interested in mentoring with Bridge21, you can sign up here!

Niall, Kate and Shane. Just three of our awesome mentors!

Even after their school year had ended, many of the TY students were still coming back to Bridge21. Over 30 students applied to mentor on the Bridge21 Primary School Programme. 230 primary school students each spent a day in Bridge21 as part of the Trinity Access Programme. The TY mentors were there to help the young students with their projects and pass on what they had learned in the same way Shane and our regular mentor team had supported them on their first visits to Oriel House. The young students had a great time and their teachers were extremely impressed too…

“I have never seen any kids respond in the way they did, they absolutely loved the day!!!”

“They really enjoyed the day! They still can’t stop going on about it. Think it’s been their favourite school trip ever. Those TY students were just so nice and helpful to them and I think they really inspired them! Of all the TAP programmes, yesterday was definitely up there for encouraging them to see the amazing opportunities available to them in college. We had such a laugh today looking at the videos again today on the whiteboard. Great times! The other children in the class were well jealous! Thanks again for such an amazing day!”

The Magic Bridge Game – Primary School Programme

Finally Dr. Jake Byrne developed and piloted a suite of CPD workshops for teachers covering topics from Digital Media Literacy to advanced computing. We have already worked with over 100 teachers through these new programmes and from September, through Trinty Access 21 (a partnership between Bridge21 and the Trinity Access Programmes), with the support of Google. Starting in September 2014 we will formally launch a three year programme for teachers that will be accredited by TCD and allow teachers to earn a Certificate, Diploma or potentially a Masters Degree in 21st Century Teaching and Learning.

It’s a very exciting time for Bridge21. Thank you to everyone who has helped make 2013/14 such a success for us. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved this year and we’re excited to get stuck in to 2014/15.

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