8th September 2000 at 01:00
DESIGN MODELLING: Visualising Ideas in 2D and 3D. By John Bairstow, Robert Barber, Marilyn Kenny. Hodder amp; Stoughton, Educational pound;9.99

At last a book that does not stray too far from the reality of an average secondary school's design and technology environment. The authors have skilfully managed a good balance between illustrating modelling skills in many guises and contextualising them, and providing student-based exemplars as well as commercial ones. They should encourage the many students we teach whose battle cry is "I can't draw" and may help to fire their imagination without overloading it.

Colour is used effectively to highlight certain techniques, effects and finishes. There are some sequence illustrations, and instructional guides, but this publication dos not set out to be an in-depth technical manual. The last two sections of the book discuss case studies and sample design briefs. I found some of them rather esoteric and would like to have seen more with explicit modelling that reflected consumer projects students could identify with. Two of the 27 briefs for a wide range of topics give some cause for concern: one to design a scalpel blade holder, the other for a range of fireworks. Need I say more?

This concise guide deserves a place in every Damp;T department where it will be of value to teachers and students alike. I've certainly picked up some new ideas that I will be using with my students.

Mike Darby teaches design and technology and is school systems manager at Forest Hill School, south-east London

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