Enhancement activities

29th October 2004 at 01:00
Bill Richmond suggests resources that offer activities and animations to enliven your lessons

Technology for KS3

By Professor John Cave Pupil's book, pound;10.99 CD-Rom, pound;50 TEP Tel: 01992 716052 www.mutr.co.uk DT ClipBank

CD-Rom series (PCMac) pound;49 (single-user licence) for each disk in the series 4Learning

Tel: 08701 246 4444

Email: learning.sales@channel4.co.uk www.4learningshop.co.uk

The diversity of subject strands in DT, allied to the pervading nature of the subject in society, gives a large scope for the production of supporting resources. The examples reviewed here representm different approaches to teaching: the TEP title comes in the form of the traditional textbook, while 4Learning offers multimediaICT interactivity. However a CD-rom can be offered with the TEP book, and sections in the book that are highlighted with a CD-Rom can be expanded by using the disk.

The Technology Enhancement Programme (TEP) has been supporting the teaching of technology for about 10 years and has provided many practical resources to make learning fun for students. The foreword by inventor Trevor Baylis describes the book as providing "stimulus for that indefinable kind of thinking that ends up with innovation" - something that can be said for many TEP projects.

The content of the 138-page book includes several activities and topics to illustrate the six main sections: What is design technology?; Getting ideas in and out of your head; Materials; Structures; Mechanisms; and Electronics in control. The book is aimed firmly at the target audience, with sections featuring familiar aspects of the subject in a simple, concise manner.

While there is a need for a simple approach, there will be students who rapidly outgrow some of the sections. Plastics, for example - materials that have significantly affected the form of modern products - are covered in three pages of text, colour photographs and illustrations, with six short paragraphs offering descriptions of classifications and common plastics.

Having provided some background to materials, the section is followed with a "design and make challenge", asking students to consider making items such as a kaleidoscope, an ink-stamp, a handle for cutlery, a game, a clock and an item of jewellery. There are numerous "Did you knowI?" facts to provide topics for extension work or class discussions. Electronics in control is one of the chapters that provide fuller coverage. It includes simple circuits using transistors and thyristors as well as the 555 timer and programmable chips.

Chapters on the CD-Rom follow those in the book, and Quicktime is used to display uncomplicated animated computer graphics of basic topics and simple demonstrations. The most useful section I found was on mechanisms. This included a range of very simple but useful basic animations.

ClipBank from 4Learning is a series of five interactive CD-Roms (Resistant Materials, Systems and Electronic Control, Graphic Products, Textiles and Food) using clips from programmes that have been shown on television and edited for this structured presentation of product design case studies.

Presented in a central frame occupying 25 per cent of the screen area, the Mpeg videos display well. Surrounding the display panel are modern colourful graphic buttons, hyperlinked to sections called Info, Word bank, Activities and www links (through the Channel4 site) as well as the video resource. The display could be used on an interactive whiteboard or by students individually. The content will provide good starting points for class sessions covering aspects of the design cycle and product design and development, and with the web-linked provision might easily be incorporated into a large variety of lesson plans.

Each disk covers the development of several products or designs and can be used with any student group several times. With more than 50 video clips, lasting from 90 seconds to five minutes, there is very good coverage of many aspects of design, production and health and safety. Supporting literature gives clear instructions for installing to a network and also offers email support, with a promised answer within two working hours, should the help files not supply answers to any issues encountered.

Bill Richmond is head of DT and AST at St John's School in Epping, Essex.

He also runs the www.design-technology.info website

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