Read all about the unique, fun and creative nature of our Design & Technology Workshops from the perspective of our Head of Consultancy, Alan Crist, in this eye-opening interview.
So Alan, it’s all very exciting, isn’t it? We’ve finally launched our DT workshops and the feedback thus far is outstanding! What do you think makes Design & Technology such an enticing subject?
Simple – it is a creative and transformative subject. We can start with nothing but an idea, assemble materials, test things out, prototype, test and evaluate! Pupils learn about designing solutions to improve our lives, they make better decisions about getting things to work and, they understand more about the impact of products on the world
Can you describe to me the type of equipment the children will be working with?
Everything! From junk materials, everyday foods, cooking utensils to circuit boards, iPads, virtual modelling tools and our amazing MTA construction kits
And what sort of objects will they be designing? Will their projects be completed individually or as part of a collaborative effort?
One of our projects is to develop the best blade for a wind turbine – they will have to experiment with all types of materials to find the most effective material. In our food tech workshop they will be using everyday to create fantastic wraps, biscuits and more as part of a STEMterprise project.
With our MTa kits anything from a catapult, to a cable car, from a bascule bridge to a wheelbarrow.
Reading through the brochure, the DT workshops appear to cover many fields which range from building a wheelbarrow to launching rockets! How many workshops are available and why do you think it’s important to have such a wide variation?
“We have nearly 40 workshops in our DT offering, split between KS1, KS2 and upper KS2; ensuring that the workshops meet all aspects of the DT curriculum in terms of design, making, evaluating and technical knowledge.
“We believe variation is important because DT is an incredibly diverse subject which can and should be used across and alongside multiple areas of the curriculum.
“With this diversity we can focus on key aspects of the DT curriculum often missed out – One such example would be our focus on enriching technical knowledge through our control and programming workshops. For example our CoSpaces workshop enables pupils to build virtual 3d models – so if you were looking at the Romans you could build a virtual Coliseum or Parthenon. Our Makey Makey workshop enables the students to work with control devices and sensors.
Art and Science cover similar areas of study. How does DT distinguish itself from these subjects? And why do you think it’s such an important part of the curriculum?
DT is a key part of the STEM agenda. STEM is an incredibly important way of getting children to learn; bringing together different disciplines and subjects and combining them together. We know children learn better when they can relate one concept or idea to another; recognising similar patterns in seemingly unrelated subjects.
In Science, for instance, we might only get to look at properties of materials from a strictly science point of view, but through Design & Technology we can decide how to use that knowledge to build structures – just look at our Three Little Pigs workshop! These elements of making and design provide kids with a fresh perspective on what they’re learning; making it more engaging and relevant to the world around them.
I’d say that’s what makes DT one of a kind!
What do you think children will gain from Design & Technology? What skills and opportunities does DT provide which you believe might not be as prominent in other subjects?
There are some very important skills in design and technology which are not covered in other areas of the curriculum, many of which we’ve discussed above. However, this is particularly evident when looking at the Making skills, which involves working with materials to meet a specific purpose; engaging, experimenting and evaluating the nature, identity and utilisation of each. This gives children the opportunity to digest the world around them in an entirely different way; allowing them to observe the things which surround them everyday with an in-depth understanding of how they work, their purpose and how they were constructed.
Buildings, bridges, clothing, textiles – these are all things which are fundamental to our lives and all of them will be covered in our workshops
This is something only DT can provide.