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It's all in the presentation

This ample suite of key stage 4 resources uses colourful and entertaining displays to cover a broad range of topics. Bill Richmond reports

Design and technology embraces a wide range of experiences and topics.

Consequently any resource that supplements material within the workshop or teaching room boundaries is a great benefit to students and teachers alike.

Boardworks has created a CD suite of key stage 4 teaching material centred on Microsoft's PowerPoint software.

The Boardworks DT KS4 series is supplied as PowerPoint presentations, with each GCSE study topic supplied on a separate CD. The range covers food technology, resistant materials and control, textiles technology, graphic products, and product design. Collectively, the CDs boast more than 75 PowerPoint presentations and, although they can be bought separately, they are issued on a single CD covering the complete range of studies.

Presentations start with a single slide stating the aims of the lesson and end with a slide rounding up the key issues covered and learned.

PowerPoint's distinctive and varied text animation styles are used, with the slides designed on a pale background using dark or coloured text.

Keywords are highlighted in a different colour; some sections have a mouse-over effect and some active areas of the display may show secondary frames allowing scrolling text using Flash. This achieves a visually entertaining appearance throughout.

Colourful cartoon drawings enliven the 18 food technology presentations and headings include Preparation of Food, Additives, Designing and Developing Ideas, Labelling and Packaging, and Quality control.

Common headings relevant to all strands, such as Evaluation Techniques, are delivered in a manner specific to each of the different study strands.

Twelve graphics presentations include a wide variety of topics. An introduction to drawing includes several animated diagrams highlighting the basics of drawing conventions - oblique, isometric and orthographic - and then also covers thick and thin lines, as well as basic rendering to show wood, metal, plastic and fabrics.

Another presentation in the graphics suite - industrial practices - relates the principles of different scales of production to tasks such as packaging, poster design and newspaper production. Short video clips enliven some of the presentations.

The presentation on quality control (23 slides) features a fun activity involving the manufacture of dice between two size limits. A conveyor carries the finished dice either to the waste bin or into the back of a waiting lorry, according to the tolerance examination. All of this is done against a timer and with a score appearing at the end of the time period.

This is an addictive activity that should prove popular with students and teachers.

Eighteen product design slides include a range of display approaches.

Control Components is a slideshow containing a section on animated gears, levers, cams and pulleys, asking students to predict the output direction of a series of interconnecting mechanisms. Such slides would have a use outside the direct study of product design, and a little time spent by the teacher examining the complete series may result in the discovery of many useful sub-sections. Other headings include: Paper, Card and Board; Anthropometrics and Ergonomics; Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals; Plastics, and Timber-based Materials.

One large presentation (57 slides) that many students will find useful centres around developing portfolios. This includes several interactive screens in which products can be compared and scored, specifications written, flowcharts created, production plans considered, and time charts planned and then filled in on screen as a group exercise.

Fifteen topics on resistant materials include a few elements that are common to other study strands. Re-ordered of text activities, hyperlinked pictures and animated diagrams, along with a collection of video clips, should engage students during the showing.

Plastics is again featured as a presentation heading, but while it uses mostly new slides, six (of the 31 slides) showing the animated plastic forming processes are re-used from another presentation. In a similar way, the presentation on Systems and Control (22 slides), reuses three of the demonstrations on mechanisms, with one extra slide demonstration of mechanisms added.

Thirteen textiles presentations include Fibres and Fabrics, ICT in Textiles, Industrial Practices, Decorating Textiles and Evaluation Techniques. Student interaction is again encouraged through re-ordering activities, question and answer sessions, filling in charts and time plans.

There is also a version of interactive noughts and crosses in which students identify correct information from a selection of answers offered to them. On identifying a correct answer, a team's respective nought or cross is added.

Undoubtedly a useful resource for specific GCSE study strands, and with several sections helpful for some KS3 lessons too, the material should find a place in the teaching repertoire of most schools. The simple Computer Aided Design-drawn diagrams and cartoons are easy to understand and fun to view. The inclusion of photos and occasional video clips adds necessary and welcome variety, as do the various interactive and game components.

A suite of CDs for KS3 is also available for textiles, food technology and resistant materials.

* Boardworks DT KS4 costs pound;249 per CD. Buying the combined CD for Pounds 599, including all topics, results in a cost of below pound;10 per slide show.

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