Lesson 9: Designing a smart school

Using their knowledge of Big Data and the Internet of Things, children design a system for a smart school Free

Before the lesson


  • Teacher video: Designing a smart school

Teacher video: Designing a smart school

Have ready

Learning objective

  • To design a system for turning a school into a smart school

National curriculum

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information
  • Understand computer networks including the internet, how they can provide multiple services, such as the world-wide web, and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration

Success criteria

  • I can recall methods of data transfer
  • I can evaluate the methods of data transfer
  • I can apply Big Data/IoT principles to solve a problem
  • I can research the technology associated with solving the problem
  • I can prepare a presentation

Cross-curricular links

Design & Technology

  • use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose, aimed at particular individuals or groups
  • apply their understanding of computing to program, monitor and control their products

Attention grabber

Display slide 2 of Presentation: Designing a smart school to discuss the Learning objective and Success criteria.



Presentation: Designing a smart school

Show on your interactive whiteboard

Slide 3: explain to pupils that in the final two lessons in this topic, they are going to design a ‘smart school’. Using the technology and data analysis that they have learnt about in the last eight lessons, they will come up with new and interesting ways to improve the lives of pupils and teachers in the school.

Slide 4 and 5: remind children that ‘smart’ means well-connected – where each data collection device is able to speak to the other. Watch Intel’s ‘Smart buildings’ video showing how businesses are trying to turn their offices into smart buildings.

Discuss which features would be applicable to a smart school.

Slide 6: then show ‘IoT Stories – Smart buildings’ about how Big Data and the Internet of Things can improve Elliot’s life in his smart building. Ask pupils to also look out for ways the smart building saves energy.


Key question

  • As you watch the video(s), can you think which of these uses could be used in our school and which couldn’t? (Children are not usually allowed mobile phones at school, so any which involve mobiles are not going to work, nor will the number plates. However, the facial recognition, the room monitoring, the climate control, the lunch ordering and the screen sharing could.)

Main event

Slide 7: Display the Internet of Things image and ask the children which methods they think could improve the school:

Slide 8: Online testing – could save paper, make results available immediately and reduce the need for teachers to write reports, as children and parents could log on and see how well they are doing whenever they wanted to.

Slide 9: Wearables for athletics and attendance tracking – remind children that this is similar to Disney’s ‘MyMagic+ Bands’ which they looked at previously. These could be used as attendance trackers, lunch cards, and even health trackers if they contained motion sensors and could connect to school WiFi. They could also be used to monitor PE lessons or even track the amount of energy you have used, and therefore the size of the lunch you require.

Slide 10: Video recorders lessons –  children who are unable to attend school could still watch and participate in a lesson. Ask the children if they think this would be a good idea.

Slide 11: Robotics for remote presence. In a school, this could mean that a teacher could monitor a group via a webcam, meaning that students could work in a different room and still be kept an eye on. Ask the children if they think this would be the best use of remote presence, or if they can think of a better use.

Go through the the rest of the presentation up until slide 18 and discuss with children all the technology they have learnt about and how it could potentially be used to make our school a smart school.



Slide 18: in groups of three/four, children devise a way to turn their school into a smart school. Explain that they will need to come up with a pitch to persuade the headteacher/teacher how and why Big Data and the Internet Of Things could help to improve the life of the school.

Slide 19: pupils can choose how to present this, possibly through presentation software, a poster, a speech, etc. They can either describe and research one specific way the school can be improved, such as designing a motion tracking wristband, or it could be a project to think of a variety of ways the school could be improved, such as drawing a map of where to install sensors in the school to help reduce wasted energy.

If pupils are struggling to find the images that they want, they could draw a picture using a graphics editing program (such as Paint or sketch.io).

Extension Opportunity:

Slide 20: BT holds an annual ‘Tech Factor competition’, awarding up to £5,000 to a school who makes a video explaining how they would improve their school using technology. Children could be set the task of creating this video.


Key question

  • Which methods do you think could improve the school?


Pupils needing extra support: May need access to the video about smart buildings to help them to come up with ideas. They may also benefit from working with a more confident partner so that they can share their ideas on how to improve the school.


Pupils working at greater depth: Should be encouraged to carry out their own research, e.g. collect data (non-private), scout the school for locations of sensors, research devices, methods of data transfer, or conduct interviews.

Wrapping up

Slide 15. Recap that we are trying to make school more effective by connecting all the data capture devices: from smart cameras, virtual presence screens, wearable devices and constant monitoring.

Slide 21: explain that this is a lot of data and ask pupils if they feel comfortable sharing all this data. Would they feel comfortable sharing it with the teachers in your school? Would they feel comfortable sharing it with website services such as Google?

Slide 22:  Watch the video ‘Google is tracking you!’, which explains how Google already collects information about where every person with a smart phone is, at all times. Ask children how this makes them feel. Then ask if they want to help improve services by sharing their data or if they’d rather not share data. Discuss the pros and cons. *

* For more information about data protection and user privacy, visit LSE webpage ‘My Data and Privacy Online’.

Slide 23: explain that they should be careful about what data they share and who they share it with. Explain that as they plan their smart school, they should be mindful that schools hold sensitive data about the children, and it’s expected that schools will keep this information safe. One of the reasons schools are not full of Bluetooth, mobile phones and smart networks is that schools try to minimise the risk of being hacked.

Data theft is becoming easier. Watch the video ‘Data to go’, which shows how a company can access people’s private data.

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding

Pupils with secure understanding indicated by: Explaining ways that Big Data or IoT principles could be used to solve a problem or improve efficiency within the school, preparing a presentation about their idea, considering the privacy of some data.


Pupils working at greater depth indicated by: Choosing a data transfer method which is most suitable for their idea, considering the data which will need to be collected and using the best technology for the most persuasive and illustrative presentation.


  • Big Data

  • Smart school

  • Data

  • Improve

  • Energy

Created by:
Richard Williams,  
Computing specialist
Richard is a Year 6 Teacher at St. Pancras Primary School. Richard’s passion for teaching was recognised when he received Suffolk’s ‘Raising The Bar’ award for Innovation 2016. With his class he made the world’s first guided VR:360 school tour…
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