All the fun of the fair;Technology
There was enormous variety at the 21st Damp;T Education Show last November: from the latest CNC lathe to the Millennium Tapestry, from the Focus on Food mobile theatre to topical information and advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
The National Association of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology launched Quality through Progression, which provides detailed guidance on planning the curriculum and exemplification of work across all key stages.
The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre stand attracted a lot of attention. The company has published a 124-page A5 book packed with information and useful hints and tips on making automata - a popular key stage 3 project providing plenty of opportunities for pupils to explore cams, cranks and levers.
Design in Your Life from the UK Steel Industry Education Service focuses on design skills and includes lively posters, a student activity book and a teacher's guide. This pack has been extensively trialled in schools and encourages pupils to undertake product analysis and develop systems for themselves. The materials should enhance their knowledge of the impact of design in many facets of engineering and technology.
Channel 4 Schools has produced an excellent range of programmes and resources, including Real Life Design, which looks at the work of leading designers. Design and Make It! is a five-part unit for key stage 4, which shows production planning and quality-control systems in action and has a strong emphasis on the use of computers in manufacturing and design. All Channel 4 Schools programmes are supported by study guides and teacher resource packs.
Food technologists will not have left the show short of ideas. The British Meat Education Service has produced a wide range of multimedia materials, while a team of regional specialists support in-service training across the country. New is Dinner Winners, a free pack of lively posters, activity sheets and teacher's notes telling the story of a young team who set out to change the face of school meals. The Royal Society of Arts Focus on Food campaign supports food education in the broader school curriculum. Materials include theme folders, reference folders and "How to" cards with detailed teacher's notes. For key stage 3, the interactive CD-Rom Discover Milk from the National Dairy Council has useful information about the product and how it's marketed.
Seekers of microchips were also not disappointed. The Chip Factory, another innovative product from the team at the Gatsby Technology Education Project, is a low-cost micro-controller programming unit that works without a computer and has the potential to transform electronics in schools. Its publicity material claims that "embedded intelligence in GCSE projects is now a practical reality" - all teachers will welcome that! The Chip Factory includes the main programming unit, a demonstration board enabling programmed PICs (peripheral interface controllers) to be tested, a printed circuit board for building into projects and a comprehensive handbook.
ICON Soft Electronics is also a contender in this field. Produced by Nottingham Trent University and The Institution of Electrical Engineers, this new softwarehardware tool allows students to program single chip micro-controllers. It uses graphical programming based on ladder logic and allows programs to be tested on-screen.
Economatics demonstrated how its software can now be used to program PICs. Matrix Multimedia has produced a PIC tutor CD-Rom and development kit, which is complemented by a new digital electronics disk.
For textiles specialists, NADCAT announced the release of its CD-Rom-based Textile Toolkit, with industrial case studies and ideas for lessons. More good practice in textiles is also to be found in a new publication from NATHE, Learning Futures Textiles: a teacher's guide to good practice in textiles technology.
For GNVQ manufacturing, Quarteney Education launched its new multimedia resource on CD-Rom. This interactive textbook with text, video, animation and sound enables students to work through assignments at their own pace and provides a variety of pathways to suit a mixed-ability class.
Intermediate Technology publishes material to introduce pupils and teachers to technologies used in different cultures, and helps challenge some of the negative stereotypes which can exist. A new case study on the Andhi Khola Project describes the use of flash cards with a community in Nepal; this would provide a good starting point for a graphics product project.
Just in case you thought that the subject had lost its roots, Porters of Selby, a long-established supplier of timber to schools, demonstrated its Pullsaw at the show. It provides an easy start to a cut, will not jump on the surface, and leaves a fine finish.
Bob Welch is senior adviser (curriculum and assessment) for Berkshire.