Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. Confucius

15 March 2011

Design & Technology

Hi Everyone,

Today I'll look at Design and Technology, which incorporates technical studies and home economics along with more recent technological advancements. The basic outline given for design and technology in the South Australian Curriculum Framework is as follows:

Explains the content and purpose of the activity


Provides clear instruction about the task or problem


Focuses learning activities, specifies directions or places limitations.


Provides direction for examining the four phases of any technology:
the intention, the design, the manifestation, the use/misuse/abuse/disposal.


Describes requirements for investigating, devising, evaluating, the trialling of materials, techniques and communication of ideas and information.


Establishes conditions for creating the product, process or system; includes skills, techniques, materials and responsible resource management.


Provides direction for evaluating the product, process or system against agreed criteria; includes communication of findings and reflecting on processes used and the outcome.

To me, these descriptions indicate that design and technology is process oriented, and the fundamental principle is for students to consider, plan, carry out and critique an activity for it's effectiveness. This may be making a go-cart, a foot stool, a plastic bowl, knitting a scarf, baking a cake, preparing a meal for 10 people, the opportunities are enormous, as long as this sequence is applied.

For example a couple of years ago, Alexandra learned to spin wool and turned some of it into a scarf. To get to this point, she needed to decide what she wanted to achieve (context/intention). She didn't know how to spin so she had to source a spinning/knitting class and a wheel (design/requirements). Attending the class, she was tutored in spinning and knitting (making), she corrected her technique where necessary and made adjustments to complete her scarf, looking for ways to improve technique for her next knitting project (critiquing/evaluating).

This same formulae may be applied to cooking a meal. The student may decide what sort of meal he/she wants to cook and for how many people (context/intention). A recipe must be found and a shopping list written with appropriate amounts of food, and food is bought (design/requirements). Cooking the meal, the child uses these ingredients to create the desired product (making) adjusting technique/amounts as necessary. A discussion of the meal may prove that the cook is happy with his/her effort, or that some changes may improve the next effort (critique and evaluation).

In looking at technological advances within society, older children may look at these stages of development from an objective viewpoint and consider ramifications of different inventions (ie green energy, stem cell reaearch, robotics etc).

In using these principles, whether it's for simple woodwork, craft or inventions, or the more complex activities of older students, it's the process of preparation, making and evaluation that are important...the activities just make it fun and interesting, so enjoy your creations!

Talk Soon, Cynthia x