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SOLIDWORKS in Schools - A New Initiative

Monday February 1, 2016 at 10:00am

How do you inspire the next generation of CAD skilled engineers and and what age can you start teaching kids how to use SOLIDWORKS? Solid Solutions new "SOLIDWORKS in Schools" initiative aims to explore these questions with the view of developing a program of learning for Primary School children. Kate Sibly explains the initiative... 

In January this year I began an exciting new venture to bring CAD and more specifically SOLIDWORKS to Primary School age children. I’ll begin with a little background information about myself: I am a fully qualified Primary school teacher with 11 years’ experience in the classroom. I have always enjoyed teaching the more hands on subjects such as Science, Design Technology and the application of Numeracy. I have had a long standing awareness of SOLIDWORKS as I am married to an engineer who uses this CAD tool. A discussion between us one evening, whilst I was creating a model cam mechanism for my students to recreate (using cardboard nets and wooden skewers!) led us to thinking that I could do the same lesson using SOLIDWORKS.

I referred back to the curriculum objectives for Design Technology and found that there were very clear links to CAD...

KS2 Design Technology Curriculum

I began researching the use of SOLIDWORKS in education and whether or not schools were teaching CAD or not. I was very lucky to be able to watch it being taught in a class at Warwick School. This was a good insight into some of the issues I may come up against with younger children such as the complexity of the interface and the need for good motor control skills.

It was at this point that I began to improve my own skills in using the software by completing tutorials and then attending the Essentials course. During the course I was struck by just how many of the Key stage 2 Numeracy objectives could be covered whilst using the software. I realised that SOLIDWORKS could be used as a cross curricular tool as well as simply for the purpose of design.

After working on simplifying the interface to make it cleaner and simpler for young children I am now in the process of developing lesson plans aimed at teaching the basics of sketching, working in 3D and creating a design that can be printed using the 3D printer.

I will be testing these lessons on some willing volunteers in the next few days...

Follow our progress by keeping up-to-date with our SOLIDWORKS in Schools Blog.

Kate Sibly

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