Some Teachers' Views of the Use of Constructional Kits in Schools

David Wharry
1980, Vol. 13, No. 1,

Abstract


The use of constructional kits such as Meccano and Fischertechnik has been advocated in such courses as Control Technologyl and Modular Courses in Technology2, and in the materials produced for these courses one may find specific suggestions for mechanisms to be built from them. However, in other syllabuses one may find statements which imply a practical use of such kits. For example in the Oxford G.C.E. Physics syllabus 054 of 1980 is printed: p.56 'Work and energy. The principles of simple machines, e.g. level, inclined plane, simple pulley systems, screw'.p.57 'Energy conversions, treated quantitatively'. In the South Western Examination Board Physics syllabus 1981 one will find:

'Simple machines. Mecahnical advantage, velocity ratio, efficiency. Practical examples including pulley systems, inclined plane, screw thread, simple gears ....... etc.'The Technology syllabus of the East Anglian Examinations Board for the C.S.E. gives the following in the 1979 issue: '4. Mechanisms Module

I General concepts ....... load effort, mechanical advantage, velocity ratio, friction and efficiency in relation to machines.

7 The use of linkages:

Sketch examples of linkages used to transmit motion:

(a) in a straight line parallel to the primary motion;

(b) to produce curved motion;

(c) to produce straight line motion at an angle to the primary motion .

9 The transmission of motion by gears .

12 The control of motion using rachets .

13 Control of motion by clutches .

14 Transmission by couplings .

This pattern of the syllabus items is repeated in many other papers both past and present in the field of Technology, Engineering Science and the pure Sciences. Thus in the syllabus for the experimental C.E.E. examinations, 1975 of the Welsh Joint Education Committee-one finds on page 4 under 'Mechanics (b) Forces'.


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