D & T Resource of the Week 12

KS3 Design and Technology- Year 8 Picaxe Cyber pet Project

Resources: Design Technology/Secondary/ KS4 Electronics and Control systems

This is a project that whilst being designed specifically for Year 8 students, could also be implemented with higher years or even with a group of Gifted and Talented Year 7 pupils. The resource perfectly illustrates and facilitates the process of breaking a problem down into sequential steps by means of flowcharts. This is swiftly followed by clear and concise tuition into the programming of PIC chips. The project employs Logicator software, but the author informs us that it could quite easily be completed with the basic PICAXE programming software. The scheme of work refers to a custom designed PCB, the author states that they can supply the artwork for this upon request - however the Cyber pet project kits contain a pre-made PCB which is cost effective when bought in bulk. Expect to find a plethora of resources accompanying this fantastic piece, which include jpegs, PowerPoint’s and documents containing concise, succinct lessons plans.

  • What is it? - A great project where Year 8 pupils get the opportunity to design and manufacture their very own Cyber Pet. More than this, the project contains all of the essential information necessary to teach the basics surrounding this advanced electronic product. The aims of this project are clearly displayed at the start of the topic and include a series of objectives and expectations. These highlight the need to give pupils a clear knowledge of electronic function design by use of PIC chips & flowcharts, to learn how to build an electronic circuit. Focus is also afforded to the development of critical thinking skills for solving logical problems, the development of creative skills by modifying the project and bringing in their own ideas. Furthermore this scheme of work helps develop reflective evaluation skills in order to facilitate future improvement. The author expects that all pupils will understand the need and applications for programmable electronics, but also, how flowcharts can be used to describe the execution of events within everyday problems. The scheme of work goes on to describe the National Curriculum levels that this projects hopes to reach and further breaks these descriptions down into their sub-levels. The written scheme is detailed if not exhaustive with reference to key vocabulary, planned differentiation, curriculum links and a focus on prior learning.
  • How could it be used? - First of all, it would not be difficult to use and implement this topic in any design technology department. Absolutely nothing is left to chance or ambiguous in any way. Projects like this take me aback when I consider how much time I have spent developing ideas for my own department and here is an outstanding resource offered free of charge. My approach would be very much “plug and play”, it’s that simple. Documents are easily printed and photocopied, exemplar practical examples supplied and an excellent PowerPoint provided, what more could you want? I would personally use this project with my year 9 students and differentiate slightly, some of the key inputs and depth of information. In my school we are only allocated one 50 minute lesson per week with our year 9’s and a systemised project such as this one is screaming out to be used. We have no time to waste when it comes to delivering a topic to a cohort you see just once a week and so require a concise product such as this and may well consider running it next year.
  • How have you used this resource? - I have not used this project as yet, but as stated above, would consider doing so in the near future. Furthermore I may well end up using the format for the scheme of work itself. It is extremely simple to follow and understand, but contains so much useful and essential information. The lesson schedule and contents is superb and articulates with ease the processes one should follow in order to effectively deliver the topic. You therefore, do not need to be an electronics expert, of which I am most definitely not. Projects written in this way instil a real confidence in the member of staff running it for the first time and of course in turn develop their understanding of the subject. To a point that they may well feel confident to deliver electronics projects the following year or even write the corresponding scheme of work. I feel that a great project can not only develop the pupils and their understanding but also those members of staff taking part. I would also suggest holding this resource up as an exemplar. I am presently the senior mentor and coach at my school and will refer back to this piece when talking to either staff or heads of departments from different subject areas when suggesting how they could develop their curriculum and subsequent schemes of work.
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