What is the cream of the crop for design and technology (DT) teachers? One product that stands out from the crowd is the Digimemo (pound;75) from Selwyn Electronics Ltd. Imagine an ordinary writing pad with a hard plastic back, a traditional-looking biro and a discrete liquid-crystal display.
This is a digital clipboard (A5) that records all of the strokes of a pen as vectors. Wow! You can record up to 999 pages of text or sketches by inserting a high-capacity CompactFlash memory card. Then transfer them via the USB port to your PC. It has huge attractions for art and design teachers, too.
Unimatic continues to lead the field with its EduCAM range of Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) hardware and EduMaker software. If you are going to BETT, look out for EduMaker 4DMaykalite (pound;595). This software works wonders with your most complex 4-axis CAD files. In extensive trialling, I found this a massive step forward in producing more accurate models in just one simple output. Unimatic can advise you on a number of CAM solutions, from small 3D machining solutions to huge flatbed CNC routers.
You won't find New Wave Concepts (www.new-wave-concepts.com) at BETT, but check out their four great software titles to help teach electronics.
Bright Spark is a super electronics simulation laboratory. Control Studio assists in the teaching and learning of systems and control. To design circuits, look no further than Livewire. This software encourages the development and testing of electronic circuits. The front end is very friendly and can be used with key stages 3 and 4 as well as sixth form.
Finally, use the wonderful PCB Wizard 3 to generate a PCB for the Unimatic Dry Cutting System.
I have moved towards doing all of my work on laptops. They are more powerful than the desktop model that you are likely to be replacing and they are cost effective. From NEC Computers (www.nec-online.co.uk), the i-Select M4610 has proven itself capable of the most demanding CAD tasks.
The 15.4-inch wide-screen display is sublime. On DVD playback the images were excellent. It is slim, light at 2.9kg and I was most impressed that the FireWire and other ports are accessible from the front and sides of the machine. The 60Gb hard drive is capacious for some serious video editing tasks and with a Pentium M 725 (1.6GHz) chip, 512Mb RAM and a multi-format DVD-RW drive you get a lot of computer for your money (pound;799).
Remember card and paper? Visit www.flying-pig.co.uk for a wealth of cardboard and paper animation resources. Rob Ives' Cardboard Engineering Source Book (pound;29.95 inc VAT) is packed full of interesting mechanisms for you to make to cover movement. The resource has a quality feel and is likely to be a useful acquisition. Layout is effective and lots of templates are printed to aid rapid modelling. You can also purchase pre-printed die-cut models (pound;2 to Pounds 3.50 inc VAT) to be stuck together as examples for your class.
Serif Software is well respected for producing low-cost and highly effective software solutions. Draw Plus 7 is a very capable package for graphic design work and comes with a comprehensive resource pack for students. Web references are included to visit other sites to underpin the work that the students are doing.
Dazzle 03 from Indigo Learning may be of interest to teachers looking for a drawing program suitable for KS1 to 3. This package enables students to paint, draw, create diagrams and manipulate imported images. The level of complexity can be adapted to suit the user's ability.
Channel 4 has an enviable reputation for making quality programmes that support DT. Look at the new ClipBank Design and Technology CD-Roms for key stage 3 and GCSE. These five DT CD-Roms feature the best clips from Channel 4's most successful DT programmes. The five discs available are Food, Textiles, Systems and Electronic Control, Resistant Materials and Graphic Products (pound;49 per CD-Rom).
Some of the best CD-Roms for DT come from Focus, including my favourite Mechanical Toys (single user pound;29.95, one-year site license pound;59.95). Visit the company's stand to see new titles for 2005. Focus on Fairground Rides (price as above) is aimed at KS2 but is equally suited to providing stimulus materials for KS3 control work.
If you're looking for some free resources, visit www.curriculumonline.gov.uk. Here you will find teaching resources to purchase and free guidance materials and video clips for you to select from.
Finally, keep a close eye on The Design and Technology Association (www.data.org.uk). They have launched a fabulous new website. When did you last visit?
Focus Educational Software - Commercial Printing Techniques CD-ROM Stand SW28
Visitors to the Focus stand will be invited to look at a brand-new CD-Rom for release early 2005 called Commercial Printing Techniques (Single user Pounds 29.95 + VAT, Full site licence pound;69.95 + VAT). This resource promises to support the teaching and learning of graphic products.
Tel: 01872 241672
Selwyn Electronics - Digimemo Stand LR2
The Digimemo (pound;75 + VAT) is a digital clipboard for teachers of design and technology.
Tel: 01732 765120
Unimatic Engineers - PCB Dry Cutting and Engraving Package Stand F55
New Wave Concepts, famous for their PCB Wizard software, has teamed up with Unimatic Engineers Ltd. In collaboration, Unimatic has devised a Printed Circuit Board dry cutting and engraving system that works with New Wave Concepts' PCB Wizard 3 software. (A complete package is available from Unimatic for pound;4,470 + VAT including an EduCAM 10 CAM machine, floating-head cutter and PCB MillCAMPercival software.)
Tel: 020 8922 1000
4LearningChannel4 Stand D42
Tel: 020 7306 5545
Design and Technology Association
Tel: 01480 354335
Serif Software Stand X90