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GCSE Engineering

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by PollyB, May 23, 2011.

  1. Having moved to AQA a few years ago from Edexcel I am thinking of 'jumping ship' again!!!. The last Single Award Exam Paper was a joke.
    Be honest, how many of you have heard of 'Hard Soldering'? No, me neither, but worked out it was Brazing!. Hard question on Restaurent Barbecues of a style I have never seen and was not on the pre-release. Almost indecypherable picture of a grill that they had to describe the manufacture. An electronic question that they would only be able to answer if they were doing Electornic products as well as Engineering. Luckily some were.
    Anyway, is Edexcel better? What about OCR?
    Help appreciated because I feel like swapping the next 'batch' to Product Design.
  2. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    I have, but then I'm an engineer. Hard soldering is a colloquial term used to differentiate between the joint strength, higher temperature and filler alloys required for brazing and soft soldering, which is done with a soldering iron and soft alloys.
    "Silver soldering" is another term commonly used for "hard soldering" as the filler alloys used contain silver which helps the filler to flow at a lower temperature than other, stronger brazing alloys.
    Just to add to the confusion, braze welding, sometimes called "bronze welding" is another process that uses bronze filler rods which join metals without the capiliary action of the brazing process. It requires a higher temperature and deposits a fillet of bronze along the joint. It's a similar process in so far as a flux is applied, the metal is heated and a filler rod is applied.
  3. Fair enough, I am also an Engineer but an Electronic/Software Engineer, would you honestly use 'Hard Soldering' to join the edes of a sheet steel barbecue? I would use a spot welder, MIG or a folded joint, soldering (of either sort) is a hand technique while most bbqs would be mass/batch produced. My point is that it may be a colloquial term to you but not neccessarily to the community.
    My question still stands - any comments on other providers? AQA's exam last year was on pedallos! Wrexham is a long way from the sea and has no boating lake.
  4. Am glad this post has come up as I am preparing to launch GCSE Engineering and find the AQA specification fairly limited in scope. I too am an engineer with a mechanical / automation background and find the use of brazing in everyday engineering antiquated to say the least. The spec seems an attempt to mesh Resistant Materials with Electronic Products and not in a good way. I have just had two years experience of Edexcel and to say they are picky over the detail of marking and paperwork is an understatement so I am steering well clear. I am now looking over the OCR spec, but if you hear of anything else then please let me know as I am all ears !
  5. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    I suspect the problem lies with the general lack of knowledge throughout the education system of engineering techniques. I agree with you that if the question referred to a brazed joint rather than a hard soldered one, it would have been easier for the uninitiated to understand these days. Part of the problem is that over the past 40 years engineering knowledge has been gradually lost in schools, just as it's been industrially.
    There are relatively few of us these days who have worked in mechanical engineering and appreciate the subtleties of it. Whoever wrote the course probably doesn't understand you are having to start from scratch again. Hard soldering was never a term used in the community. It's a specialised process may engineers never encountered, and has to be seen as such.
    I don't think it's a bad term though to teach kids in general about the differenent ways you can join metals and the various virtues without getting too technical.
    Most soldering processes these days are automated rather than being a hand process. Think of reflow soldering ovens for printed circuit boards. Think of how the carbide tips are attached to a circular saw blade. Think of how you can mass produce things easily by assembling things and passing them through an appropriate oven or other heat source. Remember, one of the advantages of soldering is it allows you to join dissimilar metals. The heat source these days can be a laser operated by a robot.
    I suspect there's a long way to go before it's possible to teach engineering with any relevance. Would it be possible to teach kids how to read and write or learn maths without knuckling down to the basics?
  6. re

    re New commenter

    Have you considered BTEC from EdExcel?
  7. Modelmaker - I agree that the correct terms for processes/tools/materials etc should be used at all times. I am quite picky myself on that one. My question is really whether a tighter spec with detailed requiements and an exam that is not 'themed' would be better. For Barbecues I produced resources and lesson plans round anything I could think of for my year group. I never thought of Hard Soldering because I, a lowly Electronic Engineer, had never heard it called that.
    re - Thankyou for your suggestion, I am not sure that the Head will allow me the time to deliver a BTEC but I am looking into it. The modular nature of a BTEC could be a winner. At least I will know hpow the kids are doing all the way through without the unknown quantity of an exam on the end.
    I wish I hadn't started this actually, I was in a very bad mood when I wrote my first post and I must apologise for its tone. I am sure that all the staff at AQA are doing their best but in the end Engineering is way too big a subject for a Single Award GCSE. If they called it Mechanical Engineering or Electronic Engineering or Electrical Engineering or Chemical Engineering or . . . . . .?
  8. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Without wishing to inflame the situation, It has long been a suspicion of mine that AQA throw their exams together very quickly and without much thought. Take the prelim material for example.. We got ONE LINE, hardly worth the printing costs let alone the packaging and postage, and its sooooo broad.

    I'll comment further once i see the exam (about this time next month)

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