Courses: Embedded Intelligence in KS3 D&T

rta-ei-courseI’m running a couple of courses on Embedded Intelligence in mid-November, specifically:

  • London, Monday 14th November
  • Manchester, Thursday 17 November

Full details and booking information are on the RTA website, but in summary, the course is based around PICAXE hardware and Blockly for programming.

During the day we’ll explore how to bring embedded intelligence into your curriculum across a range of material areas and make sure you know the basics of PICAXE programming.

The course fee includes PICAXE hardware (and the software is free) so that you can continue to explore embedded intelligence afterwards. I will also be providing post-course support.


@ShrimpingIt: Training for Educators

ShrimpingIf you’re curious about programmable control via an Arduino-compatible system, then the @ShrimpingIt kit might be of interest to you; it’s a low-cost, build-it-yourself microcontroller system that works with the usual range of Arduino programming environments.

There is a two-day training course coming up on 8-9th July, in Morecambe; See the links for details and tickets.

And if you do go, let us know what you thought of the system!

Harris Academy Federation D&T Keynote | Teaching for the new single subject D&T GCSE

Harris ppt image[Posted on David’s behalf.]
The PowerPoint from today’s keynote is available here.
David’s session was unfortunately curtailed due to previous speaker overrunning and initial glitches with IT System but even in its shortened form the presentation generated considerable interest with delegates keen to be involved in the research and professional development needed to make the new D&T GCSE a success.

Computational Thinking for Educators

Computational Thinking for Educators is a free online course from Google running from July 15 – September 30, 2015. Further information is in this blog post.

As the video below emphasises, this is a course for teachers of all subjects not just computing teachers:

This seems to me to be a useful opportunity for D&T teachers to catch up with what computational thinking is and how it can be used across the curriculum – and to start to explore how it might inform practice in D&T.

Design without make hits the spot!

The latest Osiris D&T professional development concerns Assessing without levels. Part of the day involves considering ways to teach D&T: Making without designing, Designing without making, Designing and Making and Exploring technology and society. There was some initial skepticism with regard to Designing without making. “Pupils come to D&T to make; if they’re not making they’re disappointed and become disaffected.” I quoted independent evaluation that disagreed and presented examples of pupils’ work that showed engagement and creativity. But I could tell there were still some doubters. Imagine how pleased I was to receive this email from Martin McKenna of Paignton Academy Got in this morning at 7 am, had year 9 periods 1 and 2, looked at my lesson plan and decided to throw it away…and do a Design without Making task, by 7.30 still not sure, but by 8am had nailed it! Found following clips about transport  Knocked out this worksheet  Fired them all up to design with completely open imagination…anything is possible by the time they retire When I was a kid I remember sitting in my dads new car and imagined that one day we would be able to control the radio without taking hands of the steering wheel….wouldn’t that be amazing! Students produced some fascinating ideas  It was a very useful lesson, and has put me on a new journey, a journey my students should have been on since year 7 I think. Still have no idea of model for assessment yet, but have some ideas…need to chat to SLT! The key of course is that Martin pre-empted the disappointment of not making by telling the pupils they would not be making in this particular lesson AND engaging them with the creative potential of designing ‘on its own’. This approach was developed through the Young Foresight initiative and you can find the project materials here including teacher guidance. The ideas produced by Martin’s pupils clearly indicate that they were thinking hard about transport ‘beyond the wheel’. The task was no soft option, it was academically challenging and they rose to the challenge. As you may imagine Martin’s response and that of his pupils made my day. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about his designing without making journey and how SLT support its assessment.

Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning | Free on Coursera

It’s no secret that I’m really interested in exploring the relationship between formal education and the maker community. Now a free course, Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning, is being offered, organised by the people who run the Tinkering Studio in San Francisco’s Exploratorium. This looks like a great opportunity to spend some time thinking through how maker approaches could be applied to support high quality learning in D&T.

Fundamentals of Tinkering – Course Overview from The Tinkering Studio on Vimeo.

It’s slightly bad timing for UK teachers as it falls during term time (I think it will be in the US vacation period). But it does seem too good an opportunity to miss; I urge you to at least look at the course page and view the video.

They note the materials required for the course and they all look like things most of us will either already have or could buy in the UK; it would be easy enough to create a shopping list.

I’m seriously thinking about engaging with this course and it occurs to me that if we get a group of UK-based teachers, makers, tinkerers etc. following the course we could set up a discussion/support group on the side where we could discuss implications for UK practice without boring our US colleagues (or the course organisers might be able to set us up a sub-group within the course – we could ask).

So, if you are planning to do this course, please let me know so that we can share experiences and discuss implications.

Teach Design August Newsletter

Teach Design have just published their latest newsletter.

It contains a number of interesting items but the big news is that they have obtained sponsorship to publish a magazine.

We are delighted to announce that we will be distributing a FREE magazine for teachers of D&T to all UK secondary schools. Expect to receive a copy in September, January and April, plus a “Special Edition” at some point during the next academic year!

The magazine has been carefully developed to support D&T teachers. It will include case studies from other teachers, and articles from designers and experts to help inspire and improve D&T in schools!

Teacher case studies are written by teachers for teachers, so there is a real opportunity for anyone to get involved and contribute toward this CPD resource! If you would like to contribute to our magazine then please contact us at

This is not only something to look forward to, but an opportunity to get published…