The Perse School

Design and technology

Students become confident designers who can realise their designs in a variety of resistant materials, and understand modern electronics

Our aim

Design and technology at The Perse hinges on learning by doing. We marry traditional skills such as competent use of hand tools and drawing ability with the modern elements of advanced equipment and computerised control.

We encourage students to design and make systems with creativity and originality, using a range of electronic, mechanical and pneumatic materials and components.

We operate in our own part of the school site with three classrooms.  With nearly 40 computers, a CNC lathe/mill, laser cutter, 3D printer and printed circuit board manufacture facilities, we are well equipped to deliver fun and exciting technology.

Students learn how to develop and express an idea through to creation. They learn how to modify a design to overcome challenges in manufacture, and to evolve a design to improve it as it comes to fruition.

Learning journey - Years 7-9

All students take design and technology in Years 7 and 8. We introduce them to a variety of tools and practices in order to design and make projects.

Safety is always paramount and so whether using a hammer or a solder iron, each student is taught how to use the particular tool safely and get the best out of it.

Design and research work is a key part of the process; occasional computer-based work forms as essential part of lessons where students learn a variety of skills from research techniques to 3D drawing and electronic circuit simulation. Student projects might include a wind turbine, a light-triggered colour changing sign or a line-following robot.

Students who choose to continue the subject in Year 9 develop skills in a wide range of technical areas including graphics, resistant materials and control systems. Projects typically take four to six weeks and provide a great foundation on which to take the subject further at GCSE. Students always create a wide range of useful or intriguing items, such as an audio docking station, robotics and even a marble maze.

Learning journey - GCSE

In Years 10 and 11, the GCSE course gives students the opportunity to develop their practical skills alongside understanding how things are made and controlled in the modern world.

With a heavy coursework element, students enjoy the independence of working on their individual project.

Starting in Year 10 with the basics and assuming no prior knowledge, students build up the theory and practical skills needed for the exam and the project. Covering topics about components, materials, manufacture, design and market influences, students will also improve their working knowledge of electronics and mechanical prototyping.

In the middle of Year 10, they start on their individual project, on which about 60% of the total time will be spent. Working from a list of design briefs set, they can choose the type of project to undertake which might match with their personal interests or preferred skill-set. Typical projects might include sports-aids such as a ping pong ball launcher, or a Bluetooth keyless lock.

Providing stretch

Students wishing to take their learning further can carry out one of the optional investigations set each term, from researching why the I beam is so strong for carrying loads, to practising clearance/countersink holes.

During Science Week, students can present their projects at the University of Cambridge Science Festival School Zone, as well as visit Engineering Departments and attend lectures.

Every year we take students to the Big Bang Fair for young scientists and engineers.

Year 9 students take part in the annual Rotary Club Technology Challenge. In the 2015 contest a Perse team won the competition for their design and manufacture of a motorised payload delivery system over a suspension cable.

Every year students are awarded highly prestigious national Arkwright Technology Scholarships. This scholarship carries a financial reward for each scholar but more importantly aims to link students with local engineering companies for work experience. In 2016 we had five Arkwright Scholars in the Department, amongst the highest number of any school in the country.

Beyond the classroom

Satellite communication: what does Cambridge have in common with Mount Everest, the endangered rhino and the film Gravity? This fascinating lecture by Richard Traherne, Head of Wireless at Cambridge Consultants is just one example of the technology lectures that form part of our 42 society programme of lunchtime lectures.

The Perse Rocketry Society enables students to design and build of rockets to enter into the UK Youth Aerospace Rocketry Challenge. In 2012 The Perse team won this national competition; the winning prize included a day at Farnborough International Airshow and an all-expenses trip to NASA in Florida.

We run the VEX Robotics society for anyone interested in engineering and robotic control.

DT Club runs drop-in sessions for students to use the equipment under supervision and with help to work on a project, fix a broken item, or make a kit.

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