computer-aided

Weald Technology, a business dedicated to inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists recently completed a series of computer-aided design workshops with year 6 students at Molehill Primary Academy.

Owner of Weald Technology, Phil Edwards, explains the reasons behind this pilot scheme:

“Having been a design engineer since the 1980’s, and using CAD systems for well over 20 years, it’s one of the STEM skills that I know a lot about, but one that I don’t see much of in schools.

The main reason is that it has been difficult to take it into the classroom, certainly at Key Stage 2, because the cost of the hardware and software makes it prohibitive if you simply “want to see what it’s all about”. With the advent of a good, professional, cloud-based systems though, running CAD over the internet, it’s suddenly become a lot easier to give students a taste of what CAD does, and how engineers in industry use it. With that in mind, I wondered if students as young as age 10, with their familiarity of computing and tablets, would grasp the concept of designing in 2D and 3D.

Seeking a partner to test the theory I was very fortunate to find Mike Etheridge at Molehill Primary Academy who was keen to expand their STEM activities.

The workshops, run over 5 one-hour sessions per week, proved to be a great success, and the students took to it with ease. Without them realising it, they were embedding some of the Maths and DT curriculum as they discussed the features of 2D geometry and learnt how to turn 2D shapes into 3D models. It was also really satisfying to see, by the end of the course, the quicker ones helping their fellow students if they were struggling with a particular feature.

We also ran a PDM for the teaching staff on the first day, giving them hands-on experience with the CAD system so they could appreciate what the year 6’s were learning. We also explained how industry use CAD and how it ties into other applications such as 3D printing, aerodynamics, and material.

It was a great success and I’m very grateful to Mike Etheridge, and Richard Harris the year 6 teacher, for allowing us to pilot this”

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Teacher, Richard Harris commented “My class have enjoyed the CAD workshop greatly and have had fun applying skills to a new subject. One child gave me a lovely thought, ‘ I feel like I’m important because I’m using something which really clever people use to make planes’. “

Thank you to Weald Technology for working with our year 6 students www.weald-tech.co.uk