Today we hosted the schools event. Around 30 pupils from local secondary schools came to visit and see the demonstrations we prepared for them and Team Electric Falcon’s “Build Your Own Speaker” was a huge success. The children seemed to really engage with the project and it was nice to see them expressing their creative sides when it came to tinkering with the speakers.
The group was split into two so we ran the demonstration twice. As planned we further split each group into sub-groups of three or four and gave each of them a kit containing a magnet, a coiled wire, some extra bits and a set of instructions. Tom introduced us, I gave a brief monolog on how a speaker basically works and we set them to the task.
At first the kids didn’t seem to fully understand what they were supposed to do, but after Tom, George and I helped them to get started, they became quite focused and enthusiastic. We had two laptops between us so we had to go around and test the groups’ speakers when they were ready, although this was no problem.
One of the things we hadn’t expected was how quickly some of them would assemble the components. We were testing speakers within five minutes of them getting started. This meant a lot of time was spent talking to the pupils and asking how they might be able to improve on them, to which we had some great responses. One group ended up with such a great speaker that it was louder than our demo!
Upon reflection, I think there were a couple of areas which we could improve upon if we were to repeat the demonstration. Firstly, I think it would have been helpful if the pupils could see us assemble a speaker so they could better visualise what to do. Even though it is simple when you know how, it is not immediately obvious what every part does and therefor it led to some confusion. This would probably be best achieved with a short video as we would not want to waste too much time at the start. Secondly, many of the pupils did not realise that we wanted them to experiment with speaker design. This could have been addressed in the introduction, and made clear that we had plenty of sheets of card and plastic cups for them to cut up and play with. Finally, we did not have a particular conclusion to our demonstration, so it would have been beneficial to take three or four minutes at the end to gather everyone around and take questions and feedback.
With that said, there are also positive things to take from the experience. Children can be a tough audience and I was slightly nervous when they walked in and I had to deliver a speech explaining how a speaker works, while trying to avoid using terms like “electromagnetic induction.” Public speaking is an aspect that I want to develop and doing events like this is a great way of improving. Additionally, I was pleased to see how enthusiastic some of the pupils really were. When I asked them how they might improve on the design I got some great answers, which showed that they were using the creative part of their brains. The part that says, “maybe if I take off the cone because it’s trapping the sound under it.” While this isn’t the case, it was great to see them thinking about it.
In conclusion, I believe the pupils took something from our demonstration and I hope that we inspired some of them to consider going down the Music Technology/ Electronic Engineering path.