Pioneer volunteer

2nd May 2003 at 01:00
Reading about volunteers in schools (TES Friday magazine, March 14) reminded me of my early ventures in design and technology in a Canadian elementary (primaryjunior) school.

In 1995, before Damp;T was part of the regular curriculum in Canada, I was among the first teachers in Ontario to adopt ideas from the British curriculum and build on them using a volunteer from my community in Kitchener, Waterloo, where I was a grade four teacher.

I invited in an engineer for a project designing new structures for a playground.

"Ed" came to our class once a week for five weeks to help children learn about properties of materials, shapes, stresses and simple machines. Later, prototype structures were made and tested and we completed a scale model.

He helped make these studies more realistic.

Ed assisted with designs and model making, but also talked about his own engineering projects. He described work he had done and how the theory of things such as structures was applied in the children's surroundings. He showed them how engineering was relevant even at their age, explaining scientific principles involved in the bike he took apart.

He had a very nice car, I recall, the mysteries of which he introduced to a group of enthusiasts at playtime. I was ahead of the times then but I remain convinced of the benefits.

Anne Spencer, former teacher, Victoria, Canada

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