Package deals for technology

Roy Ballam

PRODUCTS AND PACKAGES Hobsons Pounds 5.95 Packaging video pack SCIP Pounds 25. Tel: 0181 975 3894 Age range: 11-plus

Roy Ballam welcomes two informative and practical resources for key stages 3 and 4. The packaging of any product, whether it be a pork pie or a washing machine, involves a vast number of design decisions and production techniques. In schools, the study of packaging can be brought into many subject areas. These two new resources for key stages 3 and 4 should help teachers and enhance design.

The Products and Packages folder contains a detailed set of teacher's notes explaining how the material relates to the curriculum requirements of England, Scotland and Wales. It describes different types of resources, including resource tasks (focused practical tasks), capability tasks (design-and-make assignments) and IDEAs (investigation, disassembling and evaluating).

Teachers and students unfamiliar with the Nuffield design and technology terminology and resources may at first find it a little confusing. The tasks and IDEAs all have generic formats and give advice on equipment and length of time needed.

The resource tasks are useful for group work and encouraging students to organise their own research and investigations. They have simple diagrams, easy-to-follow stages explaining how to do each task, and encourage team work. The colourful case studies bring the pack to life and are linked directly to capability tasks. This gives authenticity to design problems and reflects how solutions are arrived at in industry.

It would have been easy to emphasise company logos and brand names, but they only appear as acknowledgement of sponsorship and help on the outer cover. Much thought and effort has clearly been put into this lively pack, which has lots of uses throughout technology.

The Packaging pack includes a video, a plastic bottle cap, information sheets and food product labels. It was developed by the School Curriculum Industry Partnership (SCIP) with two teachers on work placement at SmithKline Beecham.

The front cover looks rather like a detergent label and the teacher's notes inside are brief. But the areas of the design and technology programmes of study are mapped.

Useful contact addresses are a welcome addition, encouraging teachers and students to research further into this fascinating area.

The information sheets cover a wide range of topics, from packaging concept, types of materials and methods of manufacture. Each is presented on a single- sided, laminated and photocopiable A4 sheet. The graphics are lively and the explanation and illustrations appropriate for key stages 3 and 4.

A set of task cards could be used within an assignment as a focused practical task. Company logos or trade marks are avoided - the emphasis is put on up-to-date industrial information.

The video, which includes teacher's notes, looks at the development of Lucozade over the past 40 years. It shows the development of styles, packaging materials, slogans and its association with sport.

But although it is a useful tool for media analysis, the video seems to be misplaced. For Pounds 25 one would expect a video perhaps on packaging design or production.

The paper resources do add to the pack's charm, yet the cost needs to be weighed up in view of the video's content.

These two packs complement each other. One is geared to providing information, the other to suggesting practical classroom activities. They are both up-to-date, informative and of use to the whole design and technology department.

* Roy Ballam is education liaison officer at the British Nutrition Foundation

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