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Coronavirus highlighting the purpose of DT?

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by dangerfield1k, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. dangerfield1k

    dangerfield1k New commenter

    Stepping aside from the doom and gloom for a second, it has been great to see all the amazing examples of individuals and companies coming together to design, develop and manufacture solutions to life-threatening problems.

    Could this be a turning point for the subject?
  2. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Having spent thirty years designing, developing and manufacturing high-tech medical equipment, I can tell you that medical technology provides countless opportunities to interest students, but you'd need to go back to the basics of mechanical engineering and electronics, because that's what the companies who have been in the news about turning their resources over to ventilator manufacture are doing.

    They are not making games or designing pizza boxes. They are not designing shapes that will be laser cut to make clocks. They are not designing jewellery. It would require a radical shake up of the D&T curriculum and a radical re-think about the equipment a D&T workshop has. It would also need teachers to be re-trained.

    My career in this started in 1972, a couple of years after I left school. I worked in a major teaching hospital, where the medical physics dept did this stuff. I had an electronics qualification from a technical college, which was not only all that was required at the time, it was the most effective way of finding the people they needed. The dept had a mechanical engineering section, where I was seconded to to help out at a time they were snowed under with work and because I'd been given the basic skills I'd need at school, I was able to. I learned an enormous amount from my colleagues, who were light years away from what I'd been taught at school, but they wouldn't have entertained the idea of passing on their knowledge and skills if they had to start from scratch, as they would need to with anyone learning D&T in its current form.

    You are absolutely right, @dangerfield1k, it's a fantastic opportunity to re-boot D&T into a useful subject again and move away from the Mickey Mouse curriculum that's been taught for too long and every conceiveable manner possible to bore the pants off the students. Kids are a lot brighter than the curriculum enables them to be.

    The sad thing is, medical technology isn't anything like as complicated as it sounds. A kid who has been taught the basics of electronics would understand the basics of physiological measurement in the sense of how to convert electical activity in the body into meaningful measurements.

    At the age of 15, I was building radios and repairing TVs. By the time I was 16 and into music in a big way, I was making sound effect stuff for my guitar, like fuzz boxes and wah-wah pedals. I remember making a glissandovibe, a naff musical intrument project promoted in Practical Electronics over several weeks. My school didn't teach me electronics, I'm merely pointing out that despite having no formal education in electronics we had the capacity to comprehend it.

    I very much doubt that later generations lack the same ability. A kid that understands how it's possible to amplify a signal and display it could understand how an ECG, EMG and EEG works. A kid taught the basics of pressure and flow could make a spirometer without the need of too much help. I suspect it's possible that a bright kid who was taught how a respirator works might come up with an idea nobody had thought of before, but we stifle this potential talent, by having an entirely pointless curriculum.

    It takes a crisis to reasses whether we have the resources to cope with it and the focus since the Thatcher years has only been on where the most profit can be made. Well at the moment, that would be in how many face masks can be sewn, wouldn't it? How many respiratiors can be produced, how many gloves and gowns can be knocked out, wouldn't it?

    Whislst D&T has been teaching kids how to design games for 5-year olds, the kids have been learning how to hack websites and do stuff their teachers haven't a clue how to do until they watch their youtube videos.

    So much talent out there being channelled into the wrong stuff and so much boredom in the classroom through a curriculm that is hopeless outdated and beyond being utterly pointless from the day it was designed.
    Catgirl1964 and Shedman like this.
  3. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    It has shown how we need a manufacturing base that can be flexible and switch from one speciality to another and that ability is based on having a sound, basic engineering and design basis - the very things that Mr Gove's 1950's prep school curriculum is squeezing out of schools. As @Duke of York says in his excellent post above, the current curriculum is outdated, boring and pointless. Things must change after this crisis is over.
    Duke of York and Catgirl1964 like this.
  4. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    It could be a turning point. You may find getting good equipment sends you abroad. I've just ordered a Hakko F888 soldering station and for affordable test gear China seems to be the main supplier. I see that Tonghui has an impressive range of meters. For me, to buy otherwise would be prohibitively expensive.
  5. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Here's an example of a relevant "simple" project a company that doesn't usually make healthcare products has turned its hands to and which a school is likely to be both equipped to play around with and learn a lot from. You need to watch the video to get the gist of it.


    When I say "simple", what I mean is easily comprehendible. It's actually more difficult to perfect than is immediately obvious, but that gives ample opportunity to learn about the sort of things required to be done to improve on the design. Opportunities to learn about filtration and materials selection for vacuum forming and to consider what needs to be done to make a face mask comfortable enough to wear.

    And while teaching it, there's an opportunity to talk about why you have an extraction and filtration system on your laser cutter for H&S reasons and how it works.
    Shedman likes this.
  6. dangerfield1k

    dangerfield1k New commenter

    I can see Covid 19 being a context for many lessons for years to come, finally a chance to showcase some genuine solutions to real problems.

    I wonder whether we will see new funding initiatives to match the current levels of innovation we're seeing?
  7. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    Shedman and Duke of York like this.
  8. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

  9. cbryson748

    cbryson748 New commenter

    All I see is schools who have 3D printers and so on finally using them for soemthing useful..face visors...

    If we ever get back to normal.. I think we will be going back to doing the old similar things.. I cannot see children being interested and motivated to make facemasks..

    There is a chance for change here but majority of schools can't afford to change the norm or have the machinery and budgets to do so..

    I just can't see a national change for the subject..
  10. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    No, the GCSE curriculum has just been changed with the absolutely disastrous introduction of the 9 to 1 single title spec and I can't see them backtracking so soon because that would be too big an admission that they had completely messed up. Students will just carry on as DT becomes ever more marginalised and further disappears from schools.

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