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Materials Technology Highly Popular

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2022

More news for Academic

Student is working in the materials technology workshop, with facial safety coverings and gloves, as the material is sparking as the student works.

The opportunity to problem-solve, develop practical skills, and design and produce a tangible product out of a range of materials, has seen the popularity of Materials Technology grow significantly, says Teacher in Charge of
Hard Materials, Greg Murphy.

“Our classes are full, and lots of students really look forward to it. They get to class early and come to the workshops during lunchtimes and after school to work on their projects. Materials Technology used to be a male dominated subject but a lot more girls are taking it now, which is really encouraging.”

Behind the big workshop doors in the woodwork and metalwork rooms in the Technology Centre, students are working hard on a range of exciting projects. These include anything from a toolbox for the back of a ute, to a kinetic sculpture, coffee tables, tool trolleys, and jewellery boxes. “A couple of girls are making a bird perch sculpture for the garden,” says Greg.

Materials Technology is an elective subject in Years 9–10, where students create simple step-by-step projects in the ‘Design and Make’ programme, gaining knowledge of a range of materials and processes in woodwork and metalwork.

Then it’s a step up to NCEA in
Years 11–13, when students go from being directed, to working through the whole process of finding a problem, coming up with a solution, talking to a stakeholder, and designing and producing their end product, says Greg. “Through challenging briefs, students are encouraged to experiment and be innovative, as they develop design skills that translate their knowledge and ideas into practical realities.”

Greg says students in Materials Technology develop acute problem-solving skills, as they take their initial concept to design and production. “The students’ designs might look good on paper, but can they actually make their product? Experimenting with materials, trialling processes, and design through modelling are an important part of these courses.”

There are currently around 60 metalwork projects and 60 woodwork projects underway across Years 11–13, he says. “We’re impressed with the students’ projects and the accompanying folios with all their written work, which are of a really high standard.”

Greg is keen to stress that while Materials Technology teaches students skills which would be useful for a job in the trades, the subject also paves the way for a range of future study or career pathways. “Technology can lead to careers in lots of areas including civil or mechanical engineering, architecture, fitting and turning, carpentry, product design, furniture design, interior design, and industrial design to name a few.” To get an idea of the scale of the Materials Technology operation at St Andrew’s, two tonnes of steel was recently delivered to the workshop, he says. “Lots of students helped us carry it into the classroom. They loved it.”

Between them, Greg, who has taught metalwork at St Andrew’s for 14 years, and John Hamilton who has been a woodwork teacher at St Andrew’s for over 30 years, have immeasurable experience to pass on to students.
“It is a challenging subject that is great to teach. The safety aspect is another huge part of it. All the students are so well behaved though. We’ve never had any problems.”

From problem-solving to product design and production, Materials Technology allows students to develop a range of valuable skills.