True class of thoroughbreds

6th June 1997 at 01:00
COLLINS DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION COURSE. By Mike Finney, Colin Chapman and Michael Horsley. Collins Pounds 8.95. COLLINS REAL-WORLD TECHNOLOGY SERIES. Electronic Products. By Barry Payne and David Rampley. Collins Pounds 10. 99.

GCSE DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY SERIES. Resistant Materials By Colin Lever. Food Technology. By Celia Barker, Sue Kimmings and Charmian Phillips. Causeway Press Pounds 8.99 each

If children think a book is something you reach for when the television breaks down, then authors and publishers have an uphill task in presenting words and pictures which hold pupils' interest. Some resort to snappy graphics, eye-catching text and up-to-the minute examples. But how quickly such material dates. Today's Spice Girls can so easily become tomorrow's Bros.

Some textbooks, however, have a long shelf life. The Collins CDT Foundation course was written in pre-national curriculum days and is still used in many schools today.

This thoroughbred among books has now been developed into an excellent new publication for key stage 3 which uses a no-nonsense approach to designing and making.

The Design and Technology Foundation Course covers work in resistant materials, systems and control. Each page is packed with useful information and provides basic background information on the range of tools and processes likely to be found in the school workshop.

Electronics Products, an addition to the Collins Real-World Technology series, covers the requirements of the new GCSE syllabuses and will be an invaluable resource for students.

The text and illustrations are clear and an excellent comprehensive reference section contains important data in a readily accessible form. The section on modelling covers all the common approaches including computer-based systems.

One tiny printing error has been made in the formula for transistor gain in the section on amplification, but as fault-finding is one of the higher level capabilities, this will no doubt allow the bright sparks to show off.

This book is recommended most highly for students taking GCSE and vocational courses.

Causeway Press has also published two books for key stage 4 students. Design and Technology - Resistant Materials covers familiar territory including the properties of materials, production tech-niques and design methods.

The text appears more cluttered than the Collins books, but there is no lack of hard, relevant information. Key terms are highlighted and activities provide ideas for homework and further study. Each section is colour-coded to aid the reader.

The book's strength lies in its use of industrial case studies to illustrate how the theory covered in the main text relates to industrial practice.

The companion volume, Design and Technology - Food Technology, is similarly structured into units of work, full of useful detail and facts.

It is, however, surprising that the notion of designing a good product is not introduced until page 99, the previous 98 pages being devoted to facts about food, healthy eating and food processing. This contrasts with the resistant materials book which devotes the first 15 pages to designing and planning.

Both books are supported by a teacher's guide which includes photocopiable worksheets.

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