Metalcraft in Education
Over the past 60 years, Metal craft has been a proud supplier to education and training establishments around the world in teaching engineering. Even today, our range of metalworking kits, materials and accessories are still seen as relevant design and technology equipment.
In our lifetime, the school curriculum has changed tremendously from the days when children proudly took home their creations from their weekly woodwork and metalwork classes. All too often seen as the poor relation to academic subjects, these “art and craft” subjects in the 60’s and 70’s was often looked down upon.
Despite, valiant efforts to re-brand and combine these subjects with IT, under the banner CDT (Craft, Design & Technology) or D&T (Design and Technology) the UK is still failing to encourage enough students to become the engineers and scientists that are so vital to the future prosperity of this country. Perhaps because of Brexit the stakes have become even higher as the country needs more of our young people to be involved in the design, manufacture and supply of goods and services to the world’s markets. Only recently, James Dyson, one of Britain’s most famous engineering entrepreneurs commented on the increasingly massive shortage of engineers and associated the engineering skills gap - http://news.sky.com/story/uk-should-make-a-clean-break-from-eu-says-james-dyson-11034559
So how do we change this situation? Well firstly, we need to look at making the teaching of design and technology, more fun, more interesting and more inspiring. Therefore, our schools need the right teachers with the right equipment, skills, knowledge and commitment to deliver this.
Secondly, we need to ensure the syllabus gets the right balance to encourage not only design skills, but also practical skills, manufacturing skills and entrepreneurial skills in equal measure.
Finally, we need to encourage, support, incentivise and promote engineering and technology as a financially rewarding career path given the increasing demand for engineers out there.
On first seeing Metalcraft, quite a few teachers often look upon them solely as plain and simple metalworking tools that might have a place in the teaching of Resistant Materials subjects. However, this is doing Metalcraft a disservice. We therefore like to point out all the benefits these Design and Technology tools can bring to the education table:
With no heat or electric power required, they are safe, easy and fun to use which develops confidence in learning practical hands on skills of using tools to cut, punch and form steel. At the same time, it introduces students to the properties of steel and the principles of loads and forces.
We also find Metalcraft appeals to young people’s inventiveness and helps to develop creative design and problem-solving skills thus covering the spectrum from purely practical to very artistic projects.
As many straightforward projects can be made in a matter of minutes it gives the student an immediate sense of achievement, but just as importantly enables a design idea to be proto typed, tested and modified and re-evaluated within a very short time frame.
The spread of functions across the Metalcraft tools means they can be used by individual students or in groups as “manufacturing cells” where teams can be set the challenge of planning and organising a group of students to manufacture a project in the shortest time.
Many of the forward-thinking schools and colleges that use Metalcraft tools, don’t stop here. With our “Business in a Box” philosophy, they spot the potential to develop wider business/entrepreneurial skills by going on to make and sell their projects in Young Enterprise schemes or for fund raising for charities or even for the school itself. This can combine well with the application of ICT skills in the marketing and selling of finished projects and allow students the chance to develop social skills in selling items to the public. All of which can help prepare them for the world of work. To assist in this process we have a comprehensive range of Teaching and Learning Resources as well as free design sheet downloads on our Free Stuff Page (visible to those who have set up a Login account or click here to Register)
In summary, Metalcraft can be so much more than plain old Metalworking tools. After all, what other equipment gives students the chance to quickly design and make items, and cost and price them, analyse ways to manufacture quicker and less costly, then market and sell them? Technical skills yes, and life skills and preparation for the world of work definitely!
After working with so many schools we know our equipment always engages, interests and inspires students and develops their natural curiosity about being able to design and make things that leads them naturally into appreciating the artistic/aesthetic and commercial/entrepreneurial aspects of making things.
Thankfully, there are signs that government is realising how important it is to develop technical education for the sake of the UK’s future prosperity in a global economy where those that excel at manufacturing and innovation will be the leading economies.
As a STEM Ambassador, Metalcraft is doing its best to play an active part in inspiring the next generation into a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. For an example of this look at our case studies page.
In addition, in November we returned to the STTA (Scottish Technology Teacher Association) Conference at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow to demonstrate the benefits of including Metalcraft with the technology syllabus in Scotland.