Magazine article Technology and Children

Mass Production: Not at All beyond Elementary School Curriculum

Magazine article Technology and Children

Mass Production: Not at All beyond Elementary School Curriculum

Article excerpt


You can feel the tension mount as students line up their cars and get ready for the opening of the elementary Indy! Teams poise themselves to send their windpowered vehicles hurling down the hallway raceway. Children ready themselves, anxious to test the design features they have incorporated in the preparation of their hi-tech vehicles. You can hear the drag of breath as children ready their engines, lungs full ... and they're off! Wouldn't you like this to be your classroom?

Motivation and Technology

Technology is a unique study. In the elementary curriculum, no subject is better situated to a central thematic approach than technology. The study of technology allows us to draw on the concepts of other subjects, such as mathematics and science, in authentic ways. The description of the hi-tech wind race above highlights the culmination of an active and engaging technology activity. These children were highly motivated because they invested in what they had learned. This feeling of ownership was cultivated through the involvement of students in design technology as it relates to industrial mass production.

Mass Production

The technology of mass production allows factories of all types to deliver consumer goods of every description to people of all kinds. Our young children see the products of this technology but rarely have an opportunity to experience the processes firsthand. Solomon (1993) contends that children need to learn about "the role of technology in modern industry" (p. 59). Understanding this role is best achieved by visiting local industries, but that is not always an option.

Educators have responded by creating learning settings that help children imagine what it must be like for teams of people to manufacture goods (Kirkwood & Kendrick, 1999; Kitzmann, Bensen, Dignan & Bethke, 1988; Linnell, 1996; Wright, 1999; Yates, Wright & Wright, 1999).

The Products of This Venture

In leading up to the hi-tech wind race, the teacher prepares the classroom as a factory assembly line (Figure 1a,b). A list of inexpensive materials, such as narrow strips of wood, elastic bands, and construction paper, is provided in Table 1.


Table 1 Materials List

1. Car frame: (8 mm x 8 mm x 18 cm wood) 4 per car
(these can be cut in advance by the teacher if desired)

2. Picture frame: two (8 mm x 8 mm x 18 cm wood) & two
(8 mm x 8 mm x 11cm wood)
(these can be cut in advance by the teacher if desired)

3. Bristol board cut to fit the back of the picture frame. (glue with
hot glue gun)

4. Frame corner triangles: (4 cm, 4 cm, 5 cm) (8 per car & 8 per
picture frame)

5. Frame stand
(preferably bristol board)
A= 12.5 cm, B= 6 cm, C= 16 cm & D= 4 cm

6. String: 11 cm (these can be cut in 2 cm lengths)

7. Picture backing: 13.5 cm x 18 cm bristol board

8. Soda can circles: 5.5 cm diameter bristol board glued to open end
of soda can

9. Axle dowels: (21 cm x 1/4 inch diameter)

10. To insert dowels into soda cans requires a boring tool. It is
advisable for the teacher to complete this step.

11. Cross-member support for mast:(8 mm x 8 mm x 21 cm wood) & drilled
hole (1/2 cm diameter) (see Figure 2)

12. Mast dowel: (22 cm x 1/2 cm diameter)

13. Elastic bands: 1cm width(at least six per car)

14. Rubber tubing (axle stops) .25 cm x 1/4 inch inner diameter
(cut with scissors)

15. Sails: 8.5 inch x 11 inch construction paper (hole punched for

16. Six small hot glue guns & 25 sticks of glue

In this cooperative effort, students will do four things:

1) assemble a frame as a starting material to create the sailcar,

2) assemble a frame, which is redirected to create a picture frame,

3) design a wind-powered sailcar using the frame and other raw materials, and

4) the exciting finale is to race the sailcars. …

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