After years of leading the sales and solution globally in the field of Glasses free 3D, Kai had the fortune to be an early solution builder, and promoter of VR, AR, and MR education and training solutions. Unlike the old world of 3D, VR applications move super quickly. Many great talents and startups are driving this industry with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, Tencent, Baidu… Hardware, software, and industrial applications are moving swiftly forward, with plentiful of investment and market-based orders. Kai feels very privileged to be a partner and one of the most innovative and proactive personalities. Today he leads or plays active parts in the majority of deals in edu tech and industrial deals in many provinces of China, and key countries like Australia, Romania, UK, France, Germany, South East Asia, and soon India and the Middle East. Kai has the strongest influence and market assets in K12 VR education, expanding to AR and MR with a few powerful platforms and Telecom Operator partners. Travel is very intensive. But he still managed to make time for my golf, Chinese tea ritual, and most importantly, wife and a growing boy.
Malcolm Drakes, Leadership consultant at the Harris Federation, explains how a science resource (now called MEL Scholar) created by Dan Sullivan changed the way that the subject was taught across Broadford Primary School where he ensured that it went from special measures to Primary School of the Year in 2017.
Pupils at Broadford Primary School woke up excited at the prospect of the school day ahead. We worked to give the 568 children in our care a rich educational experience with challenges and the highest quality teaching.
I wanted our pupils to develop a lifelong love of learning. This informed every aspect of my team’s work at Broadford and won us recognition from outside bodies. In 2017 we were chosen as the Times Educational Supplement Primary School of the Year and we also won the coveted Overall School of the Year.
I first met Dan and his primary science scheme back in 2015, but immediately thought “Here was a set of simple but effective resources that would let us deliver high-end lessons with a WOW factor”
It is hard to believe that back in March 2012 Broadford Primary School was in Special Measures. The Senior Leadership Team decided that a systematic and sustained focus on continuous professional development (CPD) was key to improvement. Within two years the school was transformed. An emphasis on planning, resourcing, and training meant that teachers were more confident and competent when teaching core subjects.
Creating awe and wonder in science lessons
A fine example of this was the teaching of science. Very few primary teachers have a background or qualification in science. This is a pity because science taught well, provides some of the most exciting and dramatic moments in a classroom.
We wanted to thrill them with exciting experiments and activities so that even the youngest of our pupils could experience the ‘awe and wonder’ of science. It was a tall order. It was essential to equip teachers with the necessary subject knowledge and to find the money for resources so that they could conduct high-quality experiments.
There was no local training we could tap into and we were disappointed to find that many of the science schemes we could buy into would require the teachers to interpret the ideas, resource the lessons, and develop their own subject knowledge. This was going to place too heavy a workload on our teachers and would make it very difficult for us to differentiate teaching so that we could provide high-end challenges for our more able learners.
We came across Dan’s science scheme and were immediately impressed. Here was a set of simple but effective resources that would let us deliver high-end lessons with a WOW factor. Each week all year groups study the same topic featuring hands-on investigative activity guaranteed to engage pupils of all abilities create a school-wide buzz of excitement and promote collaborative working and best practices amongst staff.
MEL Scholar was developed by Dan Sullivan, an experienced secondary head of science. It gave us twelve themed termly packages of inspiring lesson plans covering chemistry, biology, and physics and assessment tools designed to measure, track, and record pupil development. Everything is mapped to the KS2 National Curriculum. It was then and still is a great time saver for staff and means they didn’t have the stress and anxiety of planning the annual science curriculum.
When you are delivering science sessions you need equipment but we don’t have the necessary space to store science resources when they are not in use so we were delighted to discover that Dan’s science scheme MEL Scholar could deliver a trolley load of specialist equipment for every year group and collect it when the classes had finished that topic if we wanted. (I know that some schools prefer to keep the equipment and this is possible too)
This is such a brilliant idea: it keeps down our capital costs, makes the best use of our limited storage space, and provides all the kit needed for exciting hands-on activities designed to enthrall pupils of all abilities. The training provided by Dan and his team was a key benefit for us. We estimated that the cost of training 25 teachers for three days would typically total upwards of £10,000 alone, so the whole package represented an affordable solution for our school and the CPD they provide is free.
The company provides a termly CPD training program delivered by highly experienced and competent science graduate teachers which boosts the confidence of teachers and makes sure lessons go with a bang – sometimes literally!
Each week all year groups studied the same topic. They enjoyed practical investigations suitable for the whole ability range and we even found staff talking about the topics and working together so there is a school-wide buzz of excitement. They have access to online resources including AR, VR, a Virtual Lab, and videos of every experiment and demonstration to support planning and to enable them to answer questions from curious pupils. Georgina Barron, the then AHT for Curriculum, regularly observed lessons and then helped teachers develop the quality of their teaching.
We had been working with Mead Primary School, one of our partner schools in the federation. The teachers worked together on training, planning, and evaluation so pupils at both schools get access to the same high-quality teaching. It also meant that science teaching in the federation was not just the responsibility of one member of staff so we ensured consistency even if staff left or were absent long-term. This is a great way for other MATs and federations to ensure the same high-quality consistency in the delivery of their science curriculums.
Teachers were able to build their skills and subject knowledge. Tej Lander, a Year 4 teacher, told me, ‘This scheme and training had really helped him to develop his scientific knowledge about the ‘scientific method’, and his confidence with the vocabulary and how to address misconceptions had really improved as a consequence of the training.’
His pupils were very appreciative too. Paige (one of our Y5 pupils) I recall saying, ‘The teacher demonstrations have been amazing. When my Mr. Lander blew the top off the paint can with a small explosion it was incredible. It makes the learning so much fun.’
When we asked the staff, 90% agreed strongly that their scientific knowledge had improved while 100% said they were more confident at planning and delivering experiments with their classes confidently based on the scientific method.
Working with Dan’s scheme significantly helped to raise the quality and consistency of our science teaching. Pupils typically made greater than expected progress across units of work and in a, then, recent survey, the vast majority of pupils said their science lessons were exciting and enjoyable and made them keen to learn more in other areas of the curriculum.
Dan Sullivan, the founder of MEL Scholar, told me, ‘Science should be fun, not just for youngsters making their first foray into the world in which we live, but for teachers as well.’ I couldn’t agree more. Lessons should regularly wow the pupils and give them hands-on opportunities to test and explore their ideas and we found that this enthusiasm for learning bubbled over into all subject areas, especially English and Maths. We had pupils describing science as their favourite subject and that had never happened before!
Daniel Sullivan, Founder of MEL Scholar Limited
Daniel has been teaching science for over 23 years. He was a highly successful head of Science in 4 inner London Secondary schools before developing the idea behind Mel Scholar. Over the last 13 years, he has developed the Primary Science Curriculum concept that supports the delivery of effective and engaging science lessons in primary schools designed to empower non-subject specialist teachers and enthuse young people about the natural universe through hundreds of amazing hands-on investigations.