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blow your mind computer 2

A third session of Blow Your Mind enrichment events for HAPs saw students breaking codes, building computers and looking at censorship.

 "We have introduced exciting new enrichment events this academic year for HAPs (High Achieving Pupils) called Blow Your Mind," said Mrs Beacham, Assistant Vice Principal (HAPs).

"Each half term selected students from each year group are working with a different department and doing something they would not have the chance to do in usual lessons.

"All of the research shows that HAPs who have the enrichment opportunities of teambuilding, problem-solving, resource allocation, leadership and the like in a context outside of their normal experience will have improved aspirations and academic performance.

"These sessions take a lot of organising beforehand and on the day but the high-quality experience we are giving these students is definitely worth it."

blow your mind computer 1 

blow your mind computer 3

Building a PC
Students had the opportunity to see what was inside a computer system. They had to open the case of a working computer and attack it with a screwdriver - under careful supervision! They removed the power supply, heatsink and fan, CPU, DVD drive, hard disk drive and motherboard. Then, they had to put it all back together again and get it working.

It was great to see students working in teams to identify and fix problems they encountered and all the students were able to get their computer working again!

In the second workshop, students had to set up a WIFI network. They had to connect to a wireless router, set up wireless channels, secure their network using encryption and assign IP addresses to each device on the network.

By the end of the session, SC3 had six wireless hotspots, all secured using industry-standard encryption.

Mr Greenhough

blow your mind slam 5

Slam Poetry

Our focus for Blow Your Mind with Year 11 was performance poetry. We had two groups, one in French and one in Spanish competing against one another. Students made their own poems, mixing alliterations, metaphors and onomatopoeia to come up with a performance that blew our minds! Some students said they did not know what to expect with performance poetry especially in a foreign language and they ended up saying that they really enjoyed it as it was so different from what we usually do in the classroom. A great event!

Mrs Matten

blow your mind slam 6


 blow your mind social sciences 3

The Great Fairtrade Bake Off
The Arch of Constantine and the Great Wall of China were just two of the landmarks made from Fair Trade foods were just part of Year 9's bake off task.

Students looked at budgets, locations and the importance of carbon footprint and researched and demonstrated understanding of geographical locations in this challenge.

Students enjoyed the task and said it was good for team-building and enhanced their research skills and gave them the chance to work with people they didn't know as well as being an opportunity to use their building, construction and design skills.


Banned Books

Year 11 students were taken on a journey through banned and censored literature. Students explored banned and censored texts to generate discussion on the power of the written word and issues of censorship.

 blow your mind censorship 1

blow your mind censorship 2

PE visit to Adrenaline

The HAP students had a fantastic time at Adrenaline. Students had to brave the Ninja Warrior course which involved using all their strength and concentration to complete. Next pupils had some time to choose activities from trampolining, reaction wall and jumping a 5-metre ledge onto a big air pillow. Overall students came away from the experience with a great physical workout whilst learning and enjoying themselves.

Mr Broomfield

blow your mind arts centre

Plymouth Arts Centre Visit

As part of the Blow Your Mind programme Creative Industries staff took a group of Sixth Form students to Plymouth Arts Centre to see the film Denial.

Denial is based on the true story of acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E Lipstadt who found herself in court facing a libel suit from Holocaust denier David Irving.  Directed by Mick Jackson from a screenplay by British playwright David Hare, the film was incredibly engrossing, informative and surprisingly uplifting given its subject matter.  With standout performances by Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall, the film has been acclaimed as ‘one of the most powerful and riveting courtroom dramas ever made’ (New York Observer), all the more powerful for being based on real events.

The film allowed students to gain knowledge and insight into the Holocaust and why it must never be forgotten.  It also enabled students to see the power of film and the role it has in communicating important historical events and social and cultural values to a large audience.

The screening was preceded by a talk from film programmer Anna Navas, placing the film in its historical context.

The group also had an opportunity to take in a viewing of the exhibition Present Moments and Passing Time by Plymouth-born film-maker/artist Malcolm Le Grice. 

This vibrant exhibition included many moving image pieces of work, projected around the Art Centre’s gallery spaces.  Artistic Director Ben Borthwick  spoke to the students about the Malcolm Le Grice exhibition and the process of putting together an exhibition of an artist’s work.

For many students it was their first visit to the Arts Centre.

Year 13 student, Sasha, said “I really enjoyed going to the Plymouth Arts Centre as I’d never been before. I had heard of it but had no idea that their cinema even existed. Watching Denial was great, not only because it was an excellent film but also because it applied to my subjects, History and Media. Whilst watching, I was constantly fascinated by the fact that it was a true story as I was astounded that someone could deny the Holocaust ever happening.”

Mr Towers


blow your mind code 1

 Escape Rooms and Code Breaking

Year 7 were working with Maths staff on codes and ciphers - Mr Webb wrote this report (in code!)

‘Upebz xf ibwf mfbsou uif bsu pg ef-dpejoh boe dpejoh. Xf txbqqfe tiffut xijdi xf ibe dpefe gps puifs ufbnt up csfbl, jo uif ipqf pg xjoojoh b dsènf fhh. Xf bmtp mfbsofe ipx jo XXJJ uifz vtfe fojhnb nbdijoft up dpef nfttbhft. Bmm jo bmm xf ibe gvo, uibol zpv Ns Xfcc.’

‘ J’wf mfbsou uif dpnqmfy xbzt pg dpejoh boe ipx up tpmwf uifn. Xf vtfe djqifs xiffmt up vompdl nfttbhft boe qbsbhsbqit.’

‘Gvo bdujwjujft. Xf hpu uif dibodf up mfbso bcpvu uijoht uibu xf dpvmeo’u mfbso jo uif dmbttsppn. Xf dpefe boe efdpefe. Ju xbt gvo.’

‘Upebz xf ibwf cffo diptfo up usz ejggfsfou tfoufodft boe dibohf uifn joup ijeefo nfttbhft. Uijt xbt wfsz gvo boe J xjmm cf epjoh uijt up usjdl qfpqmf! Xf bmtp xpslfe pvu tpnf nfttbhft upp (fwfo uipvhi tpnf xfsf tqfmu xspoh). Uif Hfsnbot vtfe up dpef uifjs nfttbhft xjui b dpnqvufs mjlf uijoh dbmmfe fojhnb.’

Ns Xfcc
Xf tubsufe cz mppljoh bu b tfsjft pg qvaamft uibu sfrvjsfe uif tuvefout up uijol pvutjef uif cpy boe tipxfe uibu tmjhiumz dibohjoh uif gpsnbu pg jogpsnbujpo dbo nblf ju ibsefs up qspdftt. Xf uifo mpplfe bu Dbftbs djqifst boe vtjoh b djqifs xiffm tuvefout dsfbufe dpeft gps uifjs qffst up csfbl. Xf dsbdlfe tpnf XX2 dpeft jo ufbnt pg 4, uijt xbt dibmmfohjoh bt jo 1939-45 uif mbohvbhf vtfe xbt b cju ejggfsfou gspn upebz. Tuvefou uifo mfbsou bcpvu uif fojhnb nbdijof boe ipx ibse uif dpeft xfsf up dsbdl.

Ipoftu gffecbdl//  Ibse up lffq fofshz mfwfmt ijhi jo Q5/6 xjui zfbs 7 tuvefout. Uifz xfsf csjmmjbou gps uif gjstu 45njot boe uifo sbo pvu pg tufbn. Nbz offe up mppl bu svoojoh b npsf bdujwf tfttjpo jg tmpu jo mbufs jo uif ebz. B hspvq pg cpzt xfsf esbhhjoh uifjs iffmt bgufs 3 bt uifz xfsf njttjoh uif tdippm gppucbmm qsbdujdf.  Nptu hspvqt xfsf fohbhfe boe gpdvttjoh xfmm. Cvu ejggjdvmuz vtjoh uif djqifs xiffm nfbou J tdsbqqfe uif qjhqfo tfdujpo pg uif tfttjpo


blow your mind code 2



Today we have learnt the art of de-coding and coding. We swapped sheets which we had coded for other teams to break, in the hope of winning a crème egg. We also learned how in WWII they used enigma machines to code messages. All in all we had fun, thank you Mr Webb.

I’ve learnt the complex ways of coding and how to solve them. We used cipher wheels to unlock messages and paragraphs.

Fun activities. We got the chance to learn about things that we couldn’t learn in the classroom. We coded and decoded. It was fun.

Today we have been chosen to try different sentences and change them into hidden messages. This was very fun and I will be doing this to trick people! We also worked out some messages too (even though some were spelt wrong). The Germans used to code their messages with a computer-like thing called Enigma.

Mr Webb
We started by looking at a series of puzzles that required the students to think outside the box and showed that slightly changing the format of information can make it harder to process. We then looked at Caesar ciphers and using a cipher wheel students created codes for their peers to break. We cracked some WW2 codes in teams of four, this was challenging as in 1939-45 the language used was a bit different from today. Students then learnt about the Enigma Machine and how hard the codes were to crack.


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