Despite its technological foundations, and with BETT marketed as an educational technology show, design and technology (Damp;T) often has to struggle for attention.
Due to this lack of profile, Damp;T is one of the few subjects noticeably absent from the seminar programme. This is surprising for a subject that is a compulsory part of the curriculum at all key stages.
At least Damp;T teaching has modernised, reflected in the government-funded CADCAM initiative, managed by DATA and various partners. The scheme provides secondary schools, sixth form colleges, FE colleges and university departments with teacher training and free industry-standard ProDESKTOP software from Parametric Technology Corporation. Following a successful pilot program, Coventry and Cornwall LEAs plan to make the initiative available to all their secondary schools.
"There are a lot of free software pilots that don't work because of the learning curve involved," says Tim Tarrant, Damp;T subject officer at the DFEE, "but teachers are trained in the use of this program, and only then can they get the free licence to use it at their school."
As CADCAM is now mandatory in secondaries, under the review of the National Curriculum for 2000, and with more advanced equipment secured through NGFL funding, schools are showing a greater interest in the subject.
"The increasing availability of computer aided design and its increasing use in industry have also brought costs down, so we are giving an advantage to pupils leaving school with these skills," says Tarrant. "There is little that is done in designing today that doesn't use computers, from ceramics to stained glass windows. It's fun and it's nice that pupils have the chance to use the same software used for high-level industry design."
You can find out more from the DFEE or TEP (Technology Enhancement Program) stands, where DATA will have a presence.
To see ProDESKTOP in action, Denford will be demonstratig parts designed and manufactured by students on a milling machine or router. The company offers a unique CD support resource, CADCAM Achiever, which provides students with a step-by-step guide to using the product in conjunction with MiniCAM (pound;150 for a classroom licence). Denford will also show ArtCAM, which has recently been accepted as part of the CADCAM initiative and is available free to schools who register with DATA.
Flexible Software produces FlexiCAD 2, a 2-d drafting program for Windows, designed to be the first CAD package that pupils might meet. Accurate line drawings can be created, edited and manipulated, and the program comes with symbol libraries for drawing houses, electric circuits and polygons. Prices range from a pound;45 single machine licence to pound;225 for a secondary school licence.
Other products will be launched exclusively at the show. For example, Quickroute Systems will showcase OnTrack (pound;399), an electronic modelling kit and software, and Electronics Design Studio, a schematic and PCB design program including the CADobjects engine.
TTS Group is releasing Hickory Dickory Dock, which teaches children to tell the nursery rhyme by using control boxes and sequence programming. Clearly aimed at younger pupils, it comes with a ready-assembled wooden model and costs pound;26.50.
For further reading material, pick up a copy of Technology in Education at the show. This publication for science and design and technology heads is devoted to Damp;T, including art and design, craft design technology, home economics, business studies and ICT.
Design and Technology Association Stand:D30D34 www.data.org.ukDenford Stand: D64www.denford.comDfEE Stand: C70www.dfee.gov.ukFlexible Software Stand: SW91www.flexible.co.ukQuickroute Systems Stand: G60www.quickroute.co.ukTechnology Enhancement Program Stand: G61www.tep.org.ukTechnology in Education Stand: E142www.technology-in-education.co.ukTTS Group Stand: P3www.tts-group.co.uk