Steve Andrew explains how understanding materials is essential for effective technological practice.
Combining knowledge and practice
Our students come from a range of schools within the Waikato. There’s about 20 schools that are contributing schools to our college. Some of them have got technology background from their previous schools, but quite a few of them just come in with very little knowledge.
But I think it is really important to understand that you know the students, and I think it generally goes right across the country, that students entering secondary school are coming in with a very low technological literacy level, and we’ve got to be aware of that so that we know we can pick a really good starting point. And I don’t think we should be afraid to start at a low level. It gives us the awareness that the students have got that knowledge as we are moving on.
For a while now, the focus in technology has been on technological practice, but we’ve got these two new strands now that have been introduced to us and I find that the technological knowledge strand really supports the teaching that I’m trying to deliver to my students.
I focus on technological products, because I believe that the materials component in the products fits really well into what we’re doing. So when I talk to my students, I regularly have examples of products that we talk about the materials and the components and the way that they have been manipulated and that sort of thing.
I was once told, or once read an article, that 90% of product failure is due to materials failure or incorrect materials. And that kind of brought back to me how important materials were to our subject, and I think now that we’ve got that focus with the product strand it gives us some real depth to work on. Where I come from, from a trade background, you know materials and processing and manipulation and that just come naturally, and I think that that is what’s important to deliver to our students.
Hands-on experiences allow the students to see materials understandings in action.
Play, experiment, explore (02:55)
Steve Andrew lets the students see, feel, and play with products to develop their understandings in materials.
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Steve Andrew describes how his senior students have the confidence to select and work with unfamiliar materials.
Exploring unfamiliar materials (02:44)
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Students and teachers talk about testing materials in year 11.
Students in year 10 describe manipulating, forming, and transforming materials.
Steve Andrew and students talk about using their knowledge to test materials for their projects at year 12.