By Roni Malek
Way back in 2009, the Science Learning Centres collaborated with DATA (the Design and Technology Association), RAEng (the Royal Academy of Engineering) and a range of people from Design and Technology (D&T )and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering ,Maths) communities to develop Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for Secondary Design and Technology (D&T) teachers in the area of systems and control. Over the years things have developed to cover other topics such as Smart materials and eTextiles and we also now have an online eCPD offering.
DATA and others had identified a range of issues including a long term trend of falling numbers of 15 year olds taking D&T. Most schools were designing and making in ‘the food and resistant materials and textiles’ aspects of the programme of study but relatively few, about 7%, in the ‘systems and control’ aspect using new technologies and STEM contexts.
The two CPD courses, Make it Work and Make it Move, were developed for D&T teachers who had no previous experience of electronics so that they could learn skills, ideas and pedagogy to develop confidence in delivering systems and control in their classrooms, typically at KS3 and KS4.
In the Make it Work course teachers learn basics of electronic components and circuits, solder and assemble a Cyberpet board, based on a PIC (Peripheral Interface Controller) chip. Teachers also program the Cyberpet to detect the switch and light sensor inputs and operate LED and buzzer outputs, for example to simulate a flashing bicycle light. Many other projects are possible: electronic pet, light sensitive security buzzer or night light, tune playing greeting card, variable program steady hand game…
Make it Move extends the use of programmable control to actuation – teachers learn about issues in connecting circuits to electric motors and gears to create programmable moving projects. The example used in the course is a bubble blower, programmed to drive two motors which again can be the basis of other projects.
Both courses have a STEM slant including input from a STEM ambassador to show real world applications of these technologies. In one Make it Work course our STEM Ambassador was from Transport for London and showed the use of PIC type circuits to run tests on traffic lights. In Make it Move a STEM Ambassador from Hitachi Trains described how actuation was used to control brakes, toilet doors and other train systems. Science related to D&T is also covered to show how important Science and D&T are to each other in the real world and to promote collaboration in school.
Make it Move now has an on-line version and there is also an on-line eTextiles course. Teachers enrolling on these courses are sent resources for making and complete the required study on-line in their own time with support from an experienced tutor.
Follow up support from the Digital D&T centres is also available as it was recognised from the outset that teachers would need time and support after the courses to develop their skills and get further ideas.
Another course, Collaborative Learning in Science and Design and Technology is aimed at D&T and science teachers attending together to develop and plan cross curricular work (I’d like to get maths teachers as well!). The course looks at issues and ideas for working across the subjects. It is commonly run on a Smart materials theme but can use other examples. For example at a recent course in an East London School with four D&T and eight science teachers we tried out a range of examples such as comparing crumple zones and measuring the energy consumption of lighting and other electrical devices.
Product analysis of torch parts and construction is a common example in D&T but energy consumption is rarely analysed. The science department has the equipment needed to do this but more importantly for learning, uses the language of energy. The use of Joules and Watts in both science and D&T leads to better science understanding from working with real contexts and better, more technologically rigorous design. Energy consumption and efficiency are of course two essential design parameters for today’s world.
Courses may be run at Science Learning Centres or by arrangement as outreach at schools. The importance of D&T courses is recognised in our programme with the course fees being supported by our Impact awards for teachers from state maintained schools.
Details of the range of Science Learning Centre D&T courses https://www.sciencelearningcentres.org.uk/audience/secondary/design-technology - only here will you find out what the TTDTT acronym stands for but much more importantly you’ll find links to all the above courses which we hope you will use to invigorate your D&T and STEM curriculum.
I stole the “technologically rigorous” quote from someone called James Dyson. It’s in his Ingenious Britain report which you can find scrolling down here http://www.jamesdysonfoundation.com/about/education.asp
Filed under: continuing professional development, Design and Technology, Secondary and Post-16 | Tagged: continuing professional development, data, design, design and technology, online course, Science Learning Centres, technology | Leave a Comment »