Robots Take the Hard Work out of Metalwork

Article excerpt

Schoolchildren once struggled with saws and drills as they laboured to make keyrings and ashtrays in metalwork classes.

But soon they will be able to simply press a button and allow robot equipment a few miles away to create their works of art as craft lessons enter the realms of science fiction.

The futuristic teaching methods are coming to Southam School, in Southam, Warwickshire, thanks to a Government grant of pounds 550,000 over four years.

Yesterday, it was named a technology college by Schools Standards Minister Ms Estelle Morris, along with Trinity School in Leamington Spa, which will receive pounds 630,000.

Southam, which has 850 pupils aged 11 to 18, plans to build new computer automated manufacturing facilities, replacing old-fashioned woodwork and metalwork rooms.

Pupils will design plastic or metal items, such as photograph frames or children's toys, and use sophisticated graphics packages to draw an image of the final product on a computer screen.

When they send the command, automated equipment including lathes and milling machines will get to work and turn the dream designs into reality.

Youngsters aged eight to 11 at eight junior schools up to five miles away will also be able to use the facilities. They will create designs on their computers and transmit them to Southam via a telephone line.

Then video cameras will show the products being manufactured.

Other futuristic teaching techniques to be introduced include a website written by staff with further information on the topics they have covered in class, which pupils can access from their own computers at home. …