Design and technology

5th January 2001 at 00:00
BETT 2001 promises to be bigger than ever, especially for design and technology teachers. Partly, this is down to the DFEE's support for initiatives by the Design and Technology Association (Data).

The DataDFEE computer-aided design and manufacture (CADCAM) initiative provides 3D-design software from PTC and DelCAM, free to schools. The software licence includes use at home by students, and Stuart Joseph, head of technology at Wolgarston High School, describes PTC's ProDESKTOP software as "one of the most exciting developments I have seen".

ProDESKTOP is available through a national network of trainers, which are listed on the Data website. It can also be accessed through NOF training with Staffordshire ICT for Teachers (SIFT).

Denford, which is located in the Future Skills area of BETT, will be showing how modern technology can help address skill shortages in industry. It has linked with Jaguar F1 to develop an exciting design, make and race project that is guaranteed to inspire engineering teachers and students. The finals will be held at BETT 2002.

Techsoft UK has supported Damp;T for many years and will be showing a couple of new additions to its long list of excellent CADCAM products. Look out especially for the new Roland Modela MDX-1520 series of scanner-millers. The Modela, when used as a scanner, has a maximum scanning resolution of 0.05mm. Scanned images can be scaled up or down and, by swapping the scanner for a cutting head, 3-D models can be cut from wood, plastic, foam or wax. Also look out for the much larger MDX-500.

Techsoft is giving away three powerful pieces of software at BETT. Modela player, Virtual Modela, and 3D Engraver will all be available on CD from the Techsoft stand. They can also be found on the cover of Technology Education Magazine.

Systems and control features strongly in the new programme of study for Damp;T, and Economatics will be showing the latest developments in its PIC-Logicator range, which reflects the fast-growing use of PICmicros in Damp;T projects. Also on display will be its new ICTextiles software, a valuable resource for developing industrial awareness. Economatics also sells the Sony Mavica range of digital cameras that store images on floppy disk. I used one of these for the first time recently, and found it ideal for recording the development and on-going evaluation of student projects.

As well as CADCAM, Data will be showing an exciting new interactive CD-Rom from the British Nutrition Foundation. Food and Nutrition is an excellent resource that contains an extensive database of foods and nutritional data. Using it, students can calculate the amounts of energy, nutrients and fibre in foods. They can also try out ideas for new food products and investigate what they might look like if the ingredients were altered. A number of case studies built into the package include virtual factory visits through slides, video and simulations. The CD also incorporates a database of linked websites. It is a bargain at pound;60 for a single user licence (pound;120 for a site licence).

Crocodile Clips has recently released Crocodile Technology, which enables you too download flowchart commands ino a STAMP micro-controller. However, look out for Crocodile Technology 1.5, which will allow you to export flowchart programs into a variety of PIC-chip controllers.

Primary Damp;T colleagues should not miss some new products from Technology Teaching Systems (TTS) and Data Harvest. TTS will be showing the Intel Play QX3 computer microscope (which requires USB and Windows 98), an excellent product both for scientific exploration and as a stimulus within the design process. It allows children to capture microscopic images on their computer as simple images, or in full-motion video or as time-lapse movies. The microscope will magnify 10x, 60x and 200x, and can be used with the supplied stand or hand held. Focusing takes a little getting used to as there is a delay before the computer screen updates, but the results are stunning.

TTS's JamCam Version 2 is a chunky, robust digital camera. Controls are simple and it can store 24 pictures with a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The results achieved with the supplied Adobe PhotoDeluxe software are perfectly acceptable for general classroom use, such as recording the stages in a design and make project. The software is easy to use and permits the addition of special effects for designing cards, calendars, certificates, labels as well as slide shows.

Data Harvest continues to supply interesting products for data-logging. Ecolog is a portable hand-held data-logger with built-in sensors for temperature, light and sound. It can be linked to a computer or set up to collect data independently. The supplied Sensing Science software makes easy work of setting up investigations. The basic pack costs pound;169 or pound;199 complete with a set of plug-in sensors.

If you are looking for a simple control box, Learn amp; Go can store a sequence of 32 actions (button presses) including delays. Using it, it is possible to program and control electrical devices without the aid of a computer. At pound;49.95 for the basic package it forms an ideal and inexpensive introduction to control procedures for young children.

Flowol has been available for some time and provides flowchart control software for Windows PCs, Apple Macs and Acorn machines. The software is easy to use and allows children to build up a flowchart of instructions that can be used to control either on-screen simulations or to control models through a number of supported interfaces. Three are included with the software and Data Harvest is writing software that will allow pupils to design and make their own.

Tim Brotherhood is an adviser for Damp;T and editor of Damp;T SiFT.


British Nutrition Foundation

CAD In Schools

Crocodile Clips: Stand M42

Tel: 0131 2261511

Data: Stand C150

Tel: 01789 470007

Data Harvest: Stand L40

Tel: 01525 373666

Denford: Stand D64


Techsoft UK: Stand G62

Tel: 01824 780 318

TTS: Stand PZ3

Tel: 01773 830255

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