Saturday, 15 September 2007

BP Technology Challenges

I used to do these a while ago with my students, I stopped doing them, I don't really know why. However I wish to bring them back into my classes, especially the programming courses.

BP Technology Challenges are available from <- fixed="fixed" link="link" p="p">
One thing I notice is that they have changed and more up to date.

I notice in one of the challenges that they have to design a moa for a television broadcast. Using this one I can see getting the students to write the brief with all the technology stuff that we need, they will then need to do gnatt charts on how to build the project as well as provide sketches. Get them to plan a conceptual design? I know it may seem a bit over the top, but its trying to make the subject different and interesting and getting them to work with others, teamwork.

Stop the Press from
In a press conference held at Massey University earlier this week, scientists have released details of a long term project. Over the past several years a team of scientists have been working with genetic material of moa remains. After months of painstaking work they have managed to piece together the genetic makeup of a moa from 1000 years ago. The possibility of bringing a moa to life was raised. The excitement went further! It was suggested that the basic genetic makeup of the moa could be genetically modified to produce a moa that could survive most
significant changes to its natural environment by the year 3000.

Your Challenge
There is worldwide interest and for the TV news a lookalike live moa is needed. You are about to reveal to the audience the moa from 1000 years ago as well as the new age (genetically modified) moa.
Using the materials provided and members of your team to construct
• a lookalike of a moa from 1000 years ago and
• a genetically modified moa that would be more likely to survive the most significant environment changes in the next 1000 years.
Prepare a brief (20 seconds maximum) presentation for the audience which explains your genetic modification and why you made it. Be aware that there is a lot of controversy surrounding work with genetic material to create new plants and animals.
You will be provided with:
• corrugated cardboard (2 m in length) • egg cartons (x 4)
• newspaper (12 sheets) • coloured card (2 sheets)
• string (4 m) • paper rubbish bag (x 1)
• vivids (x 2) • cellotape (15 m roll)
• plastic bottles (x 4)
You may use the scissors provided only during the construction period then return them to your team judge.

Q. Are students doing 'technology' when they do a BP Technology Challenge?

It is important to remember that there are distinct differences between the type of activity involved in BP Technology Challenges and the technology curriculum. Essential Elements of the

BP Challenges are that they
- are fun
- promote the development of essential skills
- develop positive attitudes to learning
- can involve parents
- are both co-operative and competitive (in the sense of showing commitment, initiative, and perseverance)
- are motivational
- promote inter-school activity
- are practical (hands on)

Essential Elements of Technology Education as detailed in the curriculum statement are that it involves...

- investigation, use, and understanding of technological products, systems and environments
- development of knowledge of the principles and processes of technology
- identification and exploration of needs and opportunities
- creation and evaluation of ideas to improve or modify technology in relation to these identified needs and opportunities
- choice and use of materials, tools, and equipment skilfully and safely
- designing technological solutions
- working to agreed specifications and quality standards
- recognising the inter-relationship of technology and society now, in the past and in the future
- feeling empowered to contribute to a technological society.

BP Challenges complement the Curriculum Framework, but used on their own, do not allow students to explore the full breadth of technology education and to participate in authentic technological practice. The strength of the BP Challenges is the manner in which they provide a motivating context where the essential skills can be developed in a supportive atmosphere and where teams of students can compete to meet pre-determined success criteria, rather than against each other.

Answer provided by Debbie Chan, Co-ordinator BP Technology Challenges, The Royal Society of New Zealand - May 2000

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