Despite the sunshine and the nail biting cricket a dozen teachers turned out for a day’s professional development by Teach Design at the Design Museum. I started the day with a key note concerning the knowledge, skills and values that underpin our subject to overturn the claim of the National Curriculum Review Expert Panel that design & technology had lacked disciplinary coherence, considering how this might be taught, how the lack of level statements might be addressed and the importance of providing a national standing committee that safeguards design & technology education. Powerpoint available at
Phew – a lot to get through in just over an hour but participants were thoughtful and responsive agreeing that the subject community needed to develop an orthodox approach without succumbing to uniformity. They were also keen to take the discussion back to their schools. This was followed by Phil Holton who was in top form describing the learning opportunities provided by Vex robotics in both construction, programming and CAD. Participants working in pairs then constructed a “claw bot” which they could control via a hand held R/C unit. VEX provides a range of opportunities:
- Constructing from plans and controlling via R/C
- Constructing from plans and controlling via programming
- Designing and constructing and controlling via either R/C or programming
The construction was not simple but all groups succeeded and learned a lot about how to manage such activities with pupils in the classroom. Clearly there are lots of opportunities to collaborate with teachers elsewhere in the curriculum whose task is to teach programming. Their views on the use of a simplified version of the language C to programme for control purposes would be welcome.
Then there was a presentation from The Drawing Tool Company showing how a rather neat template can be used to teach isometric drawing. And there is a website www.thedrawingtoolcompany.com with useful video resources. The competition to use the template to develop a design of a tent was challenging and I completely fluffed it. I suspect that this aid is best used initially in more structured situations.
This was followed by two inspirational sessions from Steve Parkinson. The first concerned disassembly, using equipment provided by Dyson. The second concerned the circular economy which invalid ‘tearing down’ a variety of products to establish how their design was or was not appropriate for a circular economy. In both sessions Steve showed in-depth subject knowledge and considerable insight into how pupils learn.
So I think it was a great day well worth foregoing the sunshine and cricket.
And after the session – a great planning meeting plotting all sorts of future events – so do watch the Teach Design space http://www.teachdesignblog.co.uk/