Slow The Flow and Youth Social Action

Big Lottery Fund and Department of Culture, Media & Sport put plans in place to invest £20 million seed funding over four years to create the #iwill fund aimed at increasing youth participation social action by 50% by 2020. 

Community Foundation for Calderdale acted as local match funders awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill fund. One of these grants was awarded to Slow The Flow in 2019 which financed a series of activities that attracted local teenagers to training and volunteering activities involving Natural Flood Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems.


A-Level Students: From Classroom to Crags

Read Here about the short course offered to A-level students introducing them to local Natural Flood Management including field work in Hardcastle Crags and nearby watercourses. Students from Calder High School completed the course during May 2019.

Year 8: Call to Action

Slow The Flow commissioned children’s workshop specialists Noisy Toys to present to the entire year group at Calder High School and then run classroom activities over three days working with over 200 students on fun and educational experiments demonstrating principles of NFM.

The presentation included:

– a working model of the water cycle (with real water!) to demonstrate the effectiveness of tree planting and SuDS in slowing the flow of water downhill.

– demonstration of a proximity sensor built around an Arduino, which was used to change the musical notes of a keyboard as a hand moved closer and further away from the unit.

– discussion of what other uses this kind of technology can have (reverse parking sensors etc) and how they can be used effectively to monitor river levels, as well as discussing the benefits of the transferable skills gained by leaning to use this kind of technology and coding.

– discussion around the wider issues of climate change, how the local and global issues are linked and recent scientific studies about the effectiveness of tree-planting at all scales.

In the classroom sessions, they learnt the basics of electrical sensor systems, and were able to discuss issues raised in the presentation in more detail.

The students were encouraged to suggest their own ideas for action in the community and the overwhelming majority of the entire year group offered to help plant the trees out of school hours. As a result, the school agreed to have trees planted on the grounds in the Spring with the help of students and local organisations such as Treesponsibility.

The Year 8 students were also encouraged to apply to attend after ‘Code The Flow’ after school clubs (see below) where they could build a working model of a river level sensor and present their new skills and understanding to invited guests.

Similar presentations and workshops suitable for younger children were also carried out at Scout Road Primary School as a further pilot activity.

Code the Flow?

Noisy Toys ran a series of after-school clubs where young people in Mytholmroyd could learn how to use programable digital devices to make a working model of river level monitoring and warning systems. The aim was for young people to gain new skills and understanding of the role of technology in flood mitigation. They presented their work and its uses at a showcase event for friends and family. There were four runs of the club, each comprising 5 hour-long sessions as well as the showcase event. The club was run by Steve Summers of Noisy Toys: a qualified teacher and specialist is bringing technology to life for young people.

In encouraging young people to attend, Steve described the opportunity as “Not just programming! We will also be using electrical and mechanical components and connections to build physical systems that will work independently of computers”.

No previous coding experience was required and all places were completely free of charge.

What happened at the club?

  • Experiments with basic visual coding to make Sparkles (multicolour LED lights) change colour in sequence, and then turning wheels and motors which could be used to activate flood mitigation mechanisms.

  • Building a visual display using a strip of Sparkles that could be used as a variable warning indicator, or for text information displays in public places.

  • Making a proximity sensor that would detect water levels and act as a switch, triggering events such as gates to open, alarms to sound, warning displays to light up etc.

  • Showcasing the students work to friends and family to raise awareness in the community.

Each week, the participants learned something new related to coding and programmable technology, then they got to play around with it! This included making physical connections and building things as well as coding. Each week there was also a section of discussion around local issues of flooding and global climate-change and what we can all do to make a difference in our local community. This included learning about what groups like Slow the Flow and Treesponsibility were doing and how young people can get involved with that work. At the showcase event, each group demonstrated their work and told of how it can be used in flood mitigation.