Mathematics: an important ingredient in the new design and technology qualifications

For those teaching the new design and technology and engineering specifications from September 2017, one of the most interesting changes to the examined content is the increased focus on mathematics knowledge. 

How would you or your students fare with the following question?

A water feature is made from three buckets A, B and C. Each bucket fills with water at a different rate.

Bucket A takes 10 minutes to fill then it begins to overflow into bucket B.

Bucket B, which is already partially filled, takes a further 5 minutes until it begins to overflow into bucket C.

Bucket C takes a further 5 minutes until it too overflows. How long would it take for bucket C to fill if buckets A and B did not overflow into it?

Has your department started their mathematical journey?

If you take a look at the appendix of the new GCSE curriculum or the new A/AS curriculum, the mathematical demands become apparent. Maybe you are already having conversations with the mathematics department. If not, now is a great opportunity for teachers of mathematics and design and technology to work more closely together.

A collaborative approach can provide mathematics teachers with realistic contexts and design and technology teachers experience the approaches being taken to deliver key mathematical concepts.

The result? A seamless link between the mathematics and design and technology skills; allowing students to mathematically investigate their own design problems and more confidently transfer skills between the two subjects.

To help your design and technology department meet the challenges of the new design and technology and engineering qualifications, we are offering a number of intensive, residential, ENTHUSE-supported CPD activities:

Preparing to teach mathematics and science content in the new engineering GCSE

With support from our science and mathematics specialists, examine the science and mathematics subject knowledge needed to solve real life engineering problems and develop teaching methods for delivery in the classroom.

Developing mathematics skills for the new design and technology AS and A levels

Investigate the mathematical subject knowledge needed to solve design engineering, product design and fashion and textiles problems. We will also help to identify areas of the key stage 3 design and technology curriculum where mathematics could be incorporated, increasing student exposure to the practical application of mathematics outside of their lessons, and better preparing students for the new key stages 4 and 5 design and technology qualifications.

Developing mathematical skills for the new design and technology GCSE

Investigate the subject knowledge needed to solve mathenatics problems that will form part of the assessed material in the new GCSE and develop teaching methods for delivery in the classroom. We will also help to identify areas of the key stage 3 design and technology curriculum where mathematics could be incorporated, increasing student exposure to the practical application of mathematics outside of their maths lessons, and better preparing students for the new key stage 4 design and technology qualifications.

If you’re wondering about the three buckets mathematics problem, take a look in the mathematics community group for the solution!

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Comments

TimBDesign

Surely bucket C will fill first for two reasons.
1. Bucket C is the smallest
2. Bucket C is the lowest so the water pressure/flow rate into bucket C will be the highest.

Paul Boyd

I am with you Tim.

Steve Lyon

This question represents a great teaching opportunity and probably highlights the different approach a maths teacher and a DT teacher may take. I imagine in most maths classes the maths problem would be the focus. Most diagrams in maths are not drawn to scale and are just a visual guide to help make sense of the problem.

This question presents the opportunity for students to make the practical observations above. We could then use some problem solving skills: stating assumptions, defining variables and simplifying the problem? Could we consider

1. situations where the buckets were the same size but the rate of flow into each bucket varied. What would the ratio of water flow need to be?
2. The bucket sizes varied but the flow rate of water is constant. What would the ratio of bucket sizes need to be?

in addition to answering the stated question?

TimBDesign

Steve,
I understand what you are saying but feel it is important to be accurate when setting questions or challenges. Diagrams with questions that contain incorrect information are likely to lead to confusion at best and wrong answers with no fault of the pupil at worst.
I would hope a D&T teacher would not accept a decimal point in the wrong place and equally, it should be incumbent on maths teachers to make sure the diagrams/questions they use are accurate.
Your suggestion of using it to prompt further investigations is not an option in my view. It accepts the initial error, adds additional complexity and is likely to further confuse both teachers and pupils.

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