New support for teachers to bring 'electronic fashion' into the classroom

New resources for teachers to confidently bring 'electronic fashion' into the classroom as part of the new D&T curriculum have been created through a research partnership between the School of Education and electronic components firm, Kitronik.

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Sarah Davies with NTU students who completed a live project for Kitronik

New resources for teachers to confidently bring 'electronic fashion' into the classroom as part of the new design and technology (D&T) curriculum have been created through a research partnership between Nottingham Trent University's School of Education and electronic components firm, Kitronik.

The two organisations have been working with teachers to develop resource packs and online activities which will introduce students to electronic textiles through hands-on exploratory activities which use new materials, such as sew able components, LEDs and electronic thread, that can be combined to create soft switches, battery holders and additional components. This allows pupils to make technical decisions about soft and flexible components within their electronic textile projects.

Kitronik, which works with over 3,000 UK schools and already offers an Electro Fashion® range, joined up with the team from the School of Education through the university's Working with you… business support project in order to find out which products would be most useful to teachers in a modern D&T classroom.

As part of the project, D&T lecturers Sarah Davies and Alison Hardy, from the Centre for Design and Technology Education at Nottingham Trent University, worked with teachers from across the country to test which resources would be most effective in the classroom to bring together electronics and textiles – a requirement of the new curriculum. A select group of teachers took part in a workshop and took the packs back to the classroom to trial with pupils.

We are developing new curriculum materials that we hope will help textiles teachers to use electronics confidently in the classroom.

Sarah Davies, Senior Lecturer in D&T Education at NTU

Yvette Hail, a teacher at Colonel Frank Seely School in Nottinghamshire, commented: "The resources were good and I am really looking forward to trialing them with my Year Seven pupils, who interestingly have just learnt about electrical circuits in science, so it will be interesting to see how well they can transfer their prior knowledge from one subject area to another."

Secondary Design and Technology Education students at Nottingham Trent University also took part in a 'live brief' set by Kitronik in order to explore how Kitronik materials could be used in school projects. They created a range of products as part of their course, including a cycling top which has the potential to indicate and display a brake light for the rider; a baby grow with a heat sensor to help parents monitor the temperature of their child, a starry night picture board to aid sleep and a glove control shoulder display to help moped riders.

Sarah Davies said: "Anecdotal evidence from schools reveals the main stumbling block for teachers using e-textiles components is their lack of confidence in knowing how to integrate them into the new curriculum. In this project we are developing new curriculum materials, such as teacher guides, pupil resources, and website case studies using Kitronik's products that we hope will help textiles teachers to use electronics confidently in the classroom and modernise the content of design and technology."

Kevin Spurr, co-founder of Kitronik, said: "In addition to providing kits for people to make their own electronic products, an extensive part of our work with schools involves providing in depth learning resources for teachers to help them make the teaching of electronics innovative and engaging for students. We want to inspire students to become interested in electronics and we think the rapidly expanding area of electronic fashion is perfect for doing that.

"I am delighted to have been involved in this research and to help develop the resources that can make this fun for students and give teachers the confidence to deliver the subject. The whole project was a learning experience for us as well and working with teachers and students provided valuable insight into how we can ensure the resources we provide will be useful and valued by teachers."

Alison Hardy, who recently won the Teacher Training Design and Technology Award from the Design and Technology Association and was part of the working group which wrote the new D&T curriculum, added: "This new curriculum gives an impetus to D&T departments in schools to increase the use of electronics and advocates an integrated approach across material areas, an example of this is combining textiles and electronics.

"However, with cuts to education and school budgets there is little opportunity for teachers to attend professional development courses where they can gain new expertise in this growing curriculum content. This is why we developed the online resource packs, which have been designed to support teachers with this area of the curriculum."

Working with teachers and students provided valuable insight into how we can ensure the resources we provide will be useful and valued by teachers.

Kevin Spurr, Co-Founder, Kitronik

The project was facilitated through Nottingham Trent University's business support project, Working with you… which helps SMEs in the East Midlands to grow and innovate. It was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Tutorials on how to use the new resources are now available on the Kitronik website, including a tutorial for the Soft Battery Holder (Power Board).

For an example of how Design for Technology Education students at Nottingham Trent University have used Kitronik's Electro Fashion® range, view a case study on an innovative LED Jacket. The jacket has been designed to aid signalling when worn on a moped or scooter.

The Centre for Design and Technology at Nottingham Trent University has a growing reputation internationally for innovation in D&T curriculum.

The School of Education's Secondary Design and Technology (D&T) Education is the top D&T teacher training course in England and Wales, with a 100% student satisfaction rate.

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New support for teachers to bring 'electronic fashion' into the classroom

Published on 29 June 2015
  • Category: Business; Press office; Research; Nottingham Institute of Education

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