Flight of fancy

9th May 2003 at 01:00
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority scheme of work for design and technology unit 6D on controllable vehicles is about making a model with an electric motor and switches.

The design and make assignment in the unit suggests solutions such as Moon buggies, lorries and circus vehicles. A good alternative is a to make a helicopter with a moving rotor. I discovered this has a number of advantages:

* It is simpler to make than a wheeled vehicle (the motor doesn't need to power the entire weight of the model).

* It is stationary when tested (although you can challenge your class to make it take off).

* It presents different problems to the usual wheelsaxlechassis set-up, often easier to solve.

* It is likely that by Year 6 children may well have made vehicles before.

* For more able pupils, there are several ways to extend the task by adding extra features.

I followed this basic plan for making model helicopters: * We avoided making a fuselage or body for the helicopter. Instead, we built the models up from the ground using small blocks of wood and thick card.

* We started with a simple circuit with motor and paperclip switch.

* Two problem areas were attaching the motor vertically and fitting the rotor blades. We overcame these by using rubber bands to hold the motor on the side of a stout vertical block of wood, and by using a small wheel or wood block (drilled), glue-gunned to the motor, to fix the blades onto.

* Rotor blades need to be light. We used card, straws or polystyrene.

The children added a tail and skis or wheels. Additional features included a tail rotor, tail fin, acetate bubble canopy, lights and cockpit details.

Andy Seed, primary supply teacher and tutor in primary Damp;T on Leeds

University PGCE course

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today