What's what in primary;Technology
Despite the present demands of the primary curriculum, Damp;T is still clearly a subject with lots to offer the primary years.
The subject organisations supporting Damp;T (The National AssociatioDesign and Technology An of Advisers and Inspectors in Design and Technology, The Association, and The National Association of Teachers of Home Economics and Technology) displayed an excellent range of recent books, folders and periodicals, each with different viewpoints and style, but all offering sensible and useful information.
There was also evidence that, reacting to curriculum pressures in the primary classroom, many companies are promoting the cross-curricular links which their products could enhance.
Designing magazine has recently been taken over by DATA and now includes a substantial and useful primary section offering case studies of good practice and ideas for classroom activities. The publication retains its clear and colourful format and is well illustrated. Each edition contains a poster, although many other pages would be useful for wall displays.
New from NATHE is The Primary Food and Textile File. This is easy to navigate and contains useful teacher's notes as well as pupil focused material. Inexpensively produced in a slide binder, the work and recipe sheets can be quickly removed for photocopying.
Tackling Technology is the title of the exciting new Channel 4 series of designing and making programmes. A range of products is investigated from a historical and cultural perspective to help children to develop an understanding of why things look as they do, how things work and the critical language of evaluation. A teacher's guide and resource pack are also available.
Also focusing on the design and function of commercially made products are the loan boxes available from The Design Museum in London. My favourite is The Mystery Loan Box, which includes a set of thought-provoking items (with the first and most interesting challenge being to work out what the objects actually are).
An exciting product that offers a good stepping stone towards computer control is Learn and Go, a small programmable box that can control 6 voltage electrical components such as bulbs, buzzers and small motors. A well-written Ideas book with teacher's notes and pupil sheets is included. Available from Data Harvest and TTS.
Heron is developing an appealing range of resources for assembly and disassembly. These include ready-to-assemble teaching aids which the teacher (or children) can make up as demonstration models - ideal for investigating and evaluating. The Frantic Cat is useful to demonstrate a simple cam system, and The Cherry Picker shows the application of pneumatics and hydraulics. Full assembly instructions and teacher's notes are available.
TTS has developed a set of well-illustrated Pop-up Work-cards which enable teachers and children to approach this popular aspect of mechanisms. A friendly alien character named Zeri guides the user through the cards, which show a progressively more complex range of techniques suitable for key stage 1 and 2 pupils. A full colour A2 poster and handy book of teacher's notes are included.
The British Nutrition Foundation demonstrated its developing Web site (www.nutrition.org.uk). Although it is aimed at a wide audience, there is a well-produced separate primary section which includes illustrated case studies of good practice in food activities, guidance for writing a school policy and notes about the role of food in the primary curriculum. This is a site which will prove particularly useful for co-ordinators.
Wesley Till is a senior lecturer at the University of Central England