New text books focus on technology

11 May 2002

Touting technology: Roger Wood, the Schools Liaison Officer for the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, is co-author of two new Successful Technology texts books for grades 8 and 9, adding to the existing volume for grade 7, of which he was also a co-author.

MAY 6 to 11 marks the National Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Week and good news on the technology front is that Oxford University Press have published two more editions of the Successful Technology school text books in their OBE Curriculum range, co-authored by UCT's Roger Wood.

A teacher by training with experience in Zambia and Swaziland, Wood is the Schools' Liaison Officer in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and the only co-author of the three textbooks to have been involved all three volumes. The two new editions are for grades 8 and 9, supplementing the first textbook designed for grade 7 students.

Wood taught metalwork and engineering drawing until the South African Department of Education introduced technology as a subject in Curriculum 2005 two years ago. "Technology is such a wide field," Wood added. "But with Successful Technology we have used eight broad themes to develop students' understanding of the technological processes. These are communication, materials, processing, energy, systems and control, information, safety and structures, and culture and society. The focus is also on technology that serves people and not the other way around."

The text books include problems that students relate to, like designing a litter bin for schools, something practical but simple. "The activities are rooted in everyday, South African contexts, using examples and situations that are relevant to students' own experiences," Wood elaborated.

Each text book comes with a Teacher's Book that includes key assessment questions for each activity enabling teachers to identify clearly the activity's focus, and students to know exactly what will be assessed. It also contains suggestions on how the material links with other learning areas. The books are also available in Afrikaans.

To boost student enrolment in Engineering and the Built Environment, especially where student numbers are down in civil engineering, part of Wood's day is spent travelling to various schools, some as far afield as Lesotho, others as close to home as Gugulethu.

"Some think it's a selling job, but it's really all about informing pupils about career paths. Many pupils have heard of engineering but they don't really know what careers and opportunities are allied to the field," he said.

At present he is hard at work on the Faculty's Discovery Week (formerly the Winter School) for pupils interested in engineering. This will be held in the June/July school holidays.

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