I was fortunate enough to be in a primary school recently, where a long standing colleague showed me some great work based upon a cheap, easy to use 3d printer. They are building a small enterprise based on selling printed items, to raise money for another 3d printer. Of course, those doing all the work are pupils! Even more fortunate to have one of the pupil leaders take me through her spreadsheet, which as well as calculating income and expenditure allowed her to track the time spent printing out items, and making decisions about what items they should focus on given the time available. We did a few what ifs, and it all worked beautifully. Very impressive and unusual because you don't see many spreadsheets being used properly in primary schools. This is mostly a consequence of the distorting influence national support for programming has on the overall pupil experience in Computing, but don't get me started on that again. Anyway, I asked her what she thought of spreadsheets. We both agreed they were a pain to set up, but she couldn't imagine being able to run her enterprise without hers. That's the point. Now she can use spreadsheets, she can do stuff she simply could never have done without them. Empowerment.
Tim Scratcherd, operations director.
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