Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United Kingdom Technology

English Schools To Introduce Children To 3D Printers, Laser Cutters, Robotics 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the path-to-the-future dept.
First time accepted submitter Kingston writes "In a radical change to the English National Curriculum, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary has announced ambitious changes to the technology syllabus. Children will be introduced to programming and debugging from the age of 5. Secondary schools (age 11 and up) will be required to have a 3D printer and introduce children to laser cutters and robotics in the design and technology course. The much derided ICT (Information and Communications Technology) subject will be overhauled to teach 'several' programming languages to children so that they can 'design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behavior of real-world problems and physical systems.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

English Schools To Introduce Children To 3D Printers, Laser Cutters, Robotics

Comments Filter:
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:10PM (#44219979) Journal

    Does the daily mail know that you can use 3d printers and laser cutters to manufacture hoodies and knives? Monstrous!

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      I'm sure the UK government will be shutting down the program forthwith. After all, the idea that kids could get access to knives is terrible...and a crime in and of itself.

    • Knives? Pfft. Guns!

      They're going to train terr'rists! And arm them!

      Run for the hills!

      Or something....

  • Won't work. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FireballX301 (766274) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:11PM (#44219995) Journal
    I was at a 'technology literate' middle school when Lego Mindstorms came out, and the school bought a few of them for the school computer club so people could 'program' and 'debug' the RCX robots. It was good fun, but all it taught to kids was a very rudimentary concept of program flow.

    If you want to make kids tech literate, you deconstruct something they use in their every day lives, when they're old enough to be capable of it. A good example would be a high school course focusing on high level full-stack design - here's twitter, here's how their servers look like in a very simple way, here's their API, let's do a 2 month project to make a frontend. Or let's make our own mini twitter just for our class, here's a sql server and we can write the backend together over a month or so. That sort of thing would both engage kids and give them useful experience.
    • by Microlith (54737)

      It won't work, will it?

      It was good fun, but all it taught to kids was a very rudimentary concept of program flow.

      Considering how limited the original Mindstorms kits and default software compared to the stuff being used today, you have to learn way more than "rudimentary concepts" to modify things.

      If you want to make kids tech literate, you deconstruct something they use in their every day lives, when they're old enough to be capable of it.

      How does this make anyone "tech literate?"

      good example would

      • My sympathy is with the 'start at the bottom and work up' approach; but I suspect that one advantage of choosing some abstract but 'real-world' example would be to keep a greater percentage of the class on task.

        At some point, you have to decide on a level of abstraction(or just go directly into a mixture of solid-state physics and theoretical CS). Even something like a humble resistor, much less an entire AtmegaXYZ with happy convenience libraries, is an abstraction, and one that people spend their entire c

        • by Microlith (54737)

          But this isn't about that approach. It's about pushing for one's preferred topic over another without providing real support for the notion that tinkering with Twitter would make kids more "tech literate" than tinkering with an Arduino.

          I know that I'd prefer to work with an Arduino, rather than screw around with web development even for a minute. Not everyone wants to work on the same project. The reality is that you'd do well to have two different paths that branch from the same fundamental education proce

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Not everyone wants to work on the same project. The reality is that you'd do well to have two different paths that branch from the same fundamental education process earlier, rather than offering one or the other.

            The reality to me, is you would do well to realize kids may approach or be interested in things differently than adults. You don't want to underestimate their intelligence, but you might want to be careful about what you expect of attention spans and interest. Depending on the age, and based on experience I've had with teaching science, there would be a rather large bias in kids toward anything that is hands on, that can make something move in the real world, off the computer. While having multiple paths

            • I tried teaching my six yr old daughter about game design, set up an account with Scratch and went through the tutorials with her. She tried for a day or two, then later in the week she showed me her games. Six sheets of paper, double sided with cut out characters, a controller (d-pad) and point tokens. Each sheet was colored with a "level" and the backs had the score screen with places for tokens. She had double sided tape on each character and put them on the appropriate screen (one hero and six villains)

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Back in the 70's they started us at 14 with a CECIL a cut down training language but it was Assembler we had to code it on sheets and send the code off and get it back the next week
    • I was at a 'technology literate' middle school when Lego Mindstorms came out, and the school bought a few of them for the school computer club so people could 'program' and 'debug' the RCX robots. It was good fun, but all it taught to kids was a very rudimentary concept of program flow.

      Then they were doing it wrong. You don't just dump the box on the floor and let the kids play. There should be specific projects with goals and graded assignments, so they take it seriously. You need to integrate it with lessons on math and physical science. I work in a Lego-Mindstorms based after school program, and the kids learn a lot about gear ratios, velocity, energy, power, sensors, programming, etc. They also learn about design, teamwork and project management. The older kids (5th and 6th grad

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Well, you can always program Mindstorms in C or Assembler or Forth if you want. It isn't restricted to the dumbed down graphical tool that comes with it. But evne what it came with is enough for some good instruction; maybe not in computer science but in thinking about how to solve the problem abstractly.

      Your example focuses too much on web stuff. That's a very limited subset of what computers do, even though it's the current cool thing. It doesn't apply to most technology and engineering. The robotics

  • Oooh Goodie! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546)
    Now we can introduce even more people to tinker toys that they'll never use after they get out of school!

    How about concentrating on reading comprehension, mathematics, and basic sciences, or if one does go into "trades", go into real trades that have proven to be durable careers...

    Not everyone gets to be a rocket scientist when they grow up, and we need to tailor our education systems to present high-but-attainable options. There's no dishonor in being a certified journeyman welder or an electricia
    • Re:Oooh Goodie! (Score:5, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:31PM (#44220209)

      How about concentrating on reading comprehension, mathematics, and basic sciences, or if one does go into "trades", go into real trades that have proven to be durable careers...

      No doubt you haven't read the article, and wouldn't let something like that get in the way of a good rant anyway.

      But the plans also include improvements to mathematics and science (I can't comment on reading/writing).

      FTA: Mathematics: five-year-olds to be taught fractions for the first time, for a solid grounding at an early age in preparation for algebra and more complex arithmetic. The new curriculum states that nine-year-olds must be taught times tables to 12, with more emphasis on the skills of mathematical modelling and problem-solving.

      Science: evolution will be taught to primary school pupils for the first time, with the new curriculum having a greater focus on scientific knowledge, practical work and mathematical requirements. In secondary school, pupils will study biology, chemistry and physics in greater depth, with greater emphasis on mathematical modelling and problem-solving.

      Without speculating about the political motivation for it, this looks like an improvement to me.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Without speculating about the political motivation for it, this looks like an improvement to me.

        Read the small print, unfortunately it isn't. They want to go back to teaching by rote with no real understanding. Don't be fooled by phrases like "problem-solving", what they mean is learning to solve specific exam-style questions in a mechanical way without needing to understand the process.

        All this seems to be to satisfy people who think youngsters are dumb because they can't do certain calculations involving fractions in their head like they can. Most of those people can barely cope with the metric syst

    • Re:Oooh Goodie! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hentes (2461350) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:31PM (#44220213)

      Who should tinker with toys if not children? Or just because something is fun it can't be educational? The best use of 3D printers is education: they teach the basics of design and programming, and are very good at printing short-lived plastic toys.

    • Re:Oooh Goodie! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:34PM (#44220243)

      Now we can introduce even more people to tinker toys that they'll never use after they get out of school!

      And you know this how

      How about concentrating on reading comprehension, mathematics, and basic sciences

      Yeah, we should never expose children to the wider realities of technology. We should hold their noses to the desk, and ensure they never see anything but the insides of books until they can parrot back exactly what they are shown. Just remember that we also need to ensure that we must present math and science in as boring a manner as possible to suck the life and interest out of every student who encounters it.

      Not everyone gets to be a rocket scientist when they grow up

      Therefore no one should ever be allowed to build a model rocket, or be taught physics, in school.

      we need to tailor our education systems to present high-but-attainable options.

      Or we should give students every possible avenue and let them experience and experiment with whatever we can and let them determine their skills.

      There's no dishonor in being a certified journeyman welder or an electrician or even a plumber, and all can pay very well if the individual learns the skills needed.

      There isn't, but limiting education such that those are the pinnacle people can hope for is as idiotic as any stupid thing being done in education today.

    • Now we can introduce even more people to tinker toys that they'll never use after they get out of school!

      You mean critical thinking and the ability to work with computers?

      I would say I've used both skills quite a lot in the real world.

      I would say most everyone in whatever field would need those skills.

      Even McDonalds workers are better served understanding how to think and use computers...

    • I started off fine in maths, but stuggled towards the end of higher education.
      Main reason is the gift of decent intelligence, eventually swamped by crippling laziness, but I digress.
      Contributory factor was also that I was, and still am, piss-poor at visualizing concepts easily. Should my maths (or my physics) have had a practical outlet, then maybe they'd have stuck with me better. An example would be when I got to use one of those programmable turtle thingies. Yay, we can draw a line, then a box, then a
      • by csumpi (2258986)

        crippling laziness

        Obviously no tinker toys would've helped with that.

        programmable turtle... time to draw a circle... and well that's how you learn about pi

        Sorry to break it to you, but drawing circles in turtle has absolutely nothing to do with pi. You might just be living proof to support OP's argument.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      yep thats the end game for Gove the reintroduction of grammar schools kids and dumping of working class kids in dead end secondary moderns - not going to be popular when Tory voters when there average kids don't make the cut though - which is one of the reasons the Tories introduced comprehensives in the firstplace.
      • by Ash Vince (602485) *

        yep thats the end game for Gove the reintroduction of grammar schools kids and dumping of working class kids in dead end secondary moderns - not going to be popular when Tory voters when there average kids don't make the cut though - which is one of the reasons the Tories introduced comprehensives in the firstplace.

        Ok, I'll bite.

        I personally think Grammar schools are a good idea. It makes much more sense to stream pupils by ability.

        When some children arrive at school they have been given a massive head start by their parents who have spent a great deal of time teaching them to read before they even get to school. Other children have parents who do not put this same effort in (probably because they are too busy at work trying to keep a roof over their head)

        That advantage gets more and more pronounced as the children ge

        • I personally think Grammar schools are a good idea. It makes much more sense to stream pupils by ability.

          Pity it's mathematically impossible to do that within one school, and on a per-subject basis.

          One perfectly valid reason for grammar schools is that kids from council houses are thieving little oiks with nits. I'm rather surprised you didn't mention it.

          P.S. If you sincerely believe selection was/is based purely on ability I have several bridges you might be interested in buying.

          • by Ash Vince (602485) *

            I personally think Grammar schools are a good idea. It makes much more sense to stream pupils by ability.

            Pity it's mathematically impossible to do that within one school, and on a per-subject basis.

            One perfectly valid reason for grammar schools is that kids from council houses are thieving little oiks with nits. I'm rather surprised you didn't mention it.

            P.S. If you sincerely believe selection was/is based purely on ability I have several bridges you might be interested in buying.

            Lol, I actually failed the selection exam (the 11 plus) to get in to Grammar school so does that answer your question regarding ability :)

            To be honest though, I didn't see much point in it at the time as I lived in a borough that had grammar and comprehensive schools but actually went to school somewhere that only had secondary moderns that did not place any stock in the 11 plus exam. I only did the exam because of where I lived, not because of where I actually went to school so it did not matter if I passe

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      Because the ability to think algorithmically is MORE important in the internet age than most of the rest of high school maths and basic sciences.

      It gives kids the ability to examine, use, experiment with the data that's thrown at them from news and magazines rather than just consuming it - yes, even writing a little app to automate one aspect of their journeyman trade perhaps. I thought LOGO to 9th, 10th and 11th graders as an introductory computer class and was delighted when the kids, for their final proj

      • by TWX (665546)
        The future isn't going to be Roddenberry's Star Trek or Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World, the future will be Gilliam's Brazil. Arguably with interoperability problems we're already there, especially in light of the fact that they missed "Tsarnaev" because someone misspelled it...

        You know what schools routinely test high in the local school district? "Basic" schools. Schools that use paper and pencils and chalk, and don't have any computers in the classrooms other than the teacher's computer f
        • Men did science and designed buildings and created medical cures and invented complex machines without computers.

          George Cayley didn't design his flying machines on a computer. Yuri Gagarin didn't have a computer at school. Leonardo Da Vinci didn't even have a slide rule!

          In fact, many pioneers of computing itself didn't have computers at home when they were growing up. Turing, Babbage, Von Neumann.

          I think we might be onto something here.

    • Now we can introduce even more people to tinker toys that they'll never use after they get out of school!

      How about concentrating on reading comprehension, mathematics, and basic sciences, or if one does go into "trades", go into real trades that have proven to be durable careers...

      Wait... why do we need to teach maths until a kid chooses a career as a mathematician? And science - complete waste of time unless the kid chooses to become a scientist; WTF would you want to teach someone physics if they're going to become a historian? In fact, you don't need to teach people to read until *after* they've chosen not to go into a burger-flipping career, right?

      Or alternatively, maybe teaching people a wide variety of stuff is a Good Thing - not only does it give them good general knowledge

  • by philipmather (864521) on Monday July 08, 2013 @06:19PM (#44220091) Homepage Journal
    ...will be printing 3D sharks, gluing the firkkin' lasers onto their heads and fitting them with little robotic legs.
  • From the article : "Pupils aged five to seven will be expected to "understand what algorithms are" and to "create and debug simple programs".

    Kids start school at age 5 here in the UK. From my memories of that age 37 or so years ago, there was much playing with sand, learning to read and write and really simple maths (learning to recite multiplication tables, simple addition and subtraction, etc). I learnt to program when I was 12 on the first generation of home computers, but then I was familiar with the b

  • I think a lot of the motivation for these changes comes from the criticism of the existing ICT course from Ofsted [bbc.co.uk] the education regulator but probably more from the speech Eric Schmidt made [guardian.co.uk] about the UK throwing away it's engineering legacy. He said "I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools"
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      Eric mate the Uk has been "throwing" its engineering legacy away since Brunell died.
    • by mvdwege (243851)

      It's even more obvious: mandating equipment means another expense that the lower classes can't bear, plus more profit for whoever gets to deliver the equipment.

      It's a blatant act of reactionary class warfare.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Schools have already had to buy lots of expensive equipment of dubious worth, like having to equip every classroom with interactive whiteboards. This new equipment list will have to be met out of LEA budgets, and they aren't getting bigger.

        • by ItsIllak (95786)

          Decisions on equipment like this are usually made at school level (by the head and by the board of governors). I don't recall any mandate to buy interactive whiteboards.

          That said - I can't see why you use that example - they are amongst the most engaging pieces of equipment in the classroom and allow the teachers to "buy in" materials to really add interest to their lesson plans.

          The sad thing is how the schools are ripped off by vendors, in fact LEAs pretty much mandate that schools should be ripped off by

    • about the UK throwing away it's engineering legacy.

      So the kids learn to build 3D printers with 15 times the number of parts that are necessary?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Good goals. But who the hell is going to teach all this?

    This is already a major problem in math: the set of people who want to teach a bunch of 5-6 year olds is pretty much disjoint from the set of people who like math. I don't want to bash teachers, but if teachers absolutely hate a subject (and trust me, a VERY large percentage of elementary educators hate math - I've taught a lot of them in college), there are going to be major problems.

    I can't imagine that these educators are going to be much better w

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:50PM (#44221759)

    As a computer and software engineer, I've taught myself mechanical engineering and manufacturing techniques with a lot of help from a laser-cut & press-brake shop owner. The biggest thing people need to learn is that you can design anything you want in the computer but you can't build it. Limitations of the tooling are a big problem. Add to that the fact that CAD assumes that metal is totally flat over any distance and you're going to run into problems. Another lesson is nomenclature. What do you call certain fiddly bits? You know what one looks like but figuring out what to call it so you can find it in a catalog is a challenge.

    IMHO, engineering curricula needs to deemphasize theory and put more focus on the real world.

  • Overheard during recess: "No Mister Bond. I expect you to die."

  • until one of them accidentally prints a toy gun. Oh, it's in the English schools you say? Not the ones in America? Carry on then.
    • by b4upoo (166390)

      It is easy for the media to create an issue by making reports about printed guns. It would be more difficult for the media to report on 3D printers causing radical shifts in society. Right now 3D printing is a bit more than a gimmick but not really a technology ready for prime time. This fall the first home will be printed by a 3D printer. You can bet that the rush is on to find ways to print all consumer goods. Perhaps we will have 3D printed bicycles soon. The point being that we are seeing th

  • The comprehensive changes sound generally good, abstract though they are. Since we're dealing with abstractions, I'll keep it abstract:

    If English schooling is anything like American (apologies, I haven't got much of a clue--I'm coming at this as I hear it as a "yank"), it will take time to implement these changes, and by the same token, it's comparatively easy to write a wishlist of changes that "sound good." The pessimist within murmurs that this seldom translates to real systemic improvement, which demand

  • Every school computer should be running Linux. Not only would this save millions, but you can instantly pop up a shell and start programming in any language you want for free (C, Java, Python, etc). Kids can pick up a Pi to continue their hobby from home, without parents needlessly shelling out for expensive PCs or laptops. No need for expensive IDEs either.

    The way you can so easily create custom Ubuntu distros, it's mind-blowing there isn't a UK tailored version of Edubuntu (different versions for differen

    • by Kingston (1256054)
      I think what would suit schools even better would be a virtualised x86 version of the Raspberry Pi distribution ( raspbian ). That way they wouldn't need to buy new hardware or replace their PCs windows operating systems. The virtualised Pi would have a low memory, disk and cpu footprint so would sit confortably on the often old PCs I have seen in secondary schools. Programming could be done in the virtualised Pi but the PC would still be available for other classes to run Photoshop or MATLAB, Pro Tools or
      • Kids could transfer their work from a Rasperry pi at home to the virtualised one at school. The only sticking points would be anyone starting to use Open GL / open GL ES could run into problems.

        No GPIO pins on a virtual machine...

        • by Kingston (1256054)
          Yes but I never thought the Raspberry Pi would make a very good physical computing resource for classrooms, for hackers yes, kids not so much. The Arduino and clones provide analogue in, PWM for servo etc. and most importantly buffered i/o ( I think the Beagle Bone Black also does all this ). Speaking as someone who made magic smoke from a BBC Micro RS232 board while at school, I think it would be just too easy to kill the Raspberry PI with its 3v3 logic ( TTL would kill it, off course ), max 50ma out and i
  • Although it sounds ambitious I have doubts...... Mainly due to the shift in responsibility. 20-30 years ago you got bad grades? Your own fault. Today you get bad grades? Teachers fault. Hence a shift towards teaching to the exam....... Secondly go further to FE colleges (16+) and the situation gets worse. If you have a read of the Wolf Report (2011) she came up with damning conclusions about the education system especially FE. That courses were run not to benefit the learners, but purely to game the go
  • I was thinking of this on my way in. I went to a pretty good high school in Upstate NY. One thing that was never taught nor forced upon us was public speaking. I think that only once in 10th grade, I had to give an oral presentation. I remember that in 11th grade, a noticeable number of the kids could not read two paragraphs out loud. Now, I should say that our HS did a great job of teaching chemistry, physics, math and programming, being located on the outskirts of GE-Schenectady. I remember that I

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

Working...