JOHN BOOTH thinks he has the key to getting teenagers interested in construction.
Mr Booth runs the Construction Curriculum Centre at Newcastle College. When faced with a general national vocational qualification foundation group of 14 to 16-year-olds, likely to get a mental block at the sight of a sheet of paper, he took them to a local museum to research and make a multimedia presentation on its use and protection of land.
He says: "Multimedia can release understanding of difficult concepts and get away from chalk and talk." His current group has produced a CD-Rom on careers in construction with support from the Construction Industry Training Board, which helped expand his computer suite from four to 15 machines.
He saw that he could improve the public's understanding of construction by taking this software into Newcastle's schools.
The next step was to run a schools competition to create
multimedia packages on construction issues, supported by the local authority, the local training and enterprise council, Bue Circle Cement, software firm MatchWare, and computer-maker Viglen, which supplied computers as prizes.
Mr Booth was particularly impressed by a group of 10 and 11-year-old pupils from Chevyside middle school, who studied the Centre for Life, a millennium project in the city centre that houses exhibitions on genetics.
Doing their own interviewing and research, they worked to a strict deadline on sound and video editing leading to a CD-Rom on the project. They went on to win the 'best application of IT' award at Tyneside TEC's Science and Technology Fair. Now they are helping to teach other children at their school multi-media skills.
Mr Booth will be running the competition again this year for Newcastle schools, though he would like to see it go nationwide.
He backs the movement on Tyneside for co-operation between schools and colleges, saying they should be complementing each other, not competing. He says: "I'm 53 and should be thinking about retiring, but this is the most exciting part of my career."