Building Bridges Across the Disciplines: Learning Science Through Technology

Grady Venville, John Wallace, Leonie Rennie, John Malone
1999, Vol. 4, No. 1,


The purpose of this study was to investigate students' learning and understanding of the concept of forces in the context of a Year 9 class studying an integrated technology unit called the Bridge Project. Data consisted of cases prepared from observational field notes and formal interviews with the teachers and five of the students in the class. The results of the case study indicated that all five interviewed students recognised passive forces involved in the equilibrium situation of the bridge and four of the five students appeared to accept a force as a feature of interaction between two objects. The results were surprising when compared with a vast body of literature that suggests that the majority of students of this age associate forces only with movement and as a property of a single object. Several aspects of the course that may have contributed to the students' understanding of forces are discussed.

Recently in Western Australia, subjects such as manual arts, home economics and computing have been superseded by the new learning area of Technology and Enterprise. This new learning area, to be implemented in schools over the next four years, is described in the recently published Curriculum Framework (Curriculum Council, 1998) and has a status equivalent with more traditional learning areas such as science, mathematics and English. The Technology and Enterprise learning area is directly linked with the Science learning area in t

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