engineering

Technology and Design

DiScoro writes about inquiry-based learning, digital resources, and ways to encourage higher-order thinking. We focus on STEM education and the use of technology.

This time we write about Technology & Design as a school subject or project for students (grade 6 to 10). In several countries Technology and Design has become a school subject.
Most commonly students work on a task during more than one hour. The tasks are interdisciplinary and require many different skills: planning, sketching, creativity, safety, use of tools, research , construction, experimentation etc.
Technology is not limited to the use of digital technology. Technology & Design tasks have a strong practical component and aim at problem solving skills. By nature the tasks are often low floor-high ceiling tasks. This implies that it is clearly understandable what the goal is, all students are able to get started (low floor). At the same time the tasks offer enough challenges and opportunities to dive deeper both in creativity as well as in complexity (high ceiling).

To make a plan is usually a step in the process. It is up to the teacher to ask for a report of the process or not. This can be written, visual, oral, with the use of multi-media (photos, video) or a combination.

Topics that could be part of Technology & Design are

    • design and create a rocking horse for children age 2-3
    • make a piece of household furniture using recycled materials
    • make a gripper stick for waste picking, or for elderly people at their homes
  • engineering (using concepts from chemistry and physics)

Technology and Design will certainly focus on the new economy where circular design and production, and no or minimal waste, are the ultimate challenges and goals.

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Design Bridges

The Bridge Designer program is part of the Bridge Design Contest for civil engineers. The program enables students to design bridges, test the design, and analyse the test results. Both construction and costs are important factors. The design is part of a contest among students, but can also be used without participation in the contest. After the design a simulation of a truck crossing the designed bridge can be viewed.

The software Bridge Designer (2015) can be downloaded for free and is different for every new yearly contest.

The design requires a set of choices that influence the overall construction, the architecture, the costs. Thereafter the details have to be designed choosing from multiple options in terms of number of joints and supports, type of material etc.

Apart from use at university level among (civil)engineering students, the program could also be used as a tool to prepare a design of a bridge at secondary school level. Hereby, the tool could be used as an intrioduction. The program visualises the different type of constructions used in building bridges and their names.


Despite the high level of data and complexity of the designs you can make, is Bridge Designer  a highly interactive and intuitive program.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC, Mac
 Requirements  Java

Gears

Every month DiScoro writes about resources that can be used in schools and about inspirational issues. See Services in the Menu for workshops, training etc.

Gears is an applet that offers short tasks based on gears. The game applies knowledge, skills and concpets from both maths and engineering/mechanics.

gears screen

The applet Gears can be found at two different locations in the Primas project and on the RekenWeb. The applet can be used in grade 4-8. We used the applet as preparation for more complex tasks using GearSketch.

Note: The applet does not work on an iPad.
 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser, Java