Wow...That's Helpful! TechSoft are keenly aware that Design and Technology in Primary Schools brings an entirely new set of challenges. Software has to be easy to master and must quickly prove itself to be exciting and motivating, especially where content is taught within themes that have their own learning priorities. We have listened carefully to teachers and have taken a long hard look at our well-established Primary Design programme with a clear aim to make it the most helpful, versatile and easy-to-use drawing package you could wish for. The result is TechSoft Primary V3 and we reckon it’s something with enough ‘wow’ to see it being used for Design and Technology and much more besides.
Most simple ‘paint’ packages work by colouring dots (pixels) on the screen - this looks OK and you can print out the drawing, but that’s about all. TechSoft Primary V3 is a ‘vector’ package and every line and shape you draw will have a unique mathematical identity defined in terms of coordinates and geometry. You won’t be aware of this when designing, but it means that drawings can be edited, dimensioned and output to a CAM machine. Printed copy will be exactly the right size and not scaled to fit the page. This is the way that most commercial Graphic and Computer Aided Design packages work, so TechSoft Primary V3 is a great preparation for future learning and provides pupils and teachers with powerful new tools at KS2. The software uses a familiar Windows interface and is logical and easy to use, so pupils and teachers will quickly be up to speed.
TechSoft Primary V3 can’t be beaten for making accurate project
plans. These can include dimensions and can be ‘filled’ in flat colour,
shaded (or graduated) colour, or even photo-images of the material they will
be made from. Plans can be printed onto label paper to make accurate
templates, or pages can be bordered, titled and printed onto regular paper
as a record for design folders.
TechSoft Primary V3 makes a great graphic design tool as well. Text, photographs and accurate drawings can all be combined making it ideal for presentation pages, or for creating posters and leaflets. We’ve been careful not to overload the software with too many tools but have included simple ways to change photo-images and trim them to size and shape.
You don’t need to be aware of the geometry working for you under the surface of TechSoft Primary V3, to be able to create accurate drawings, but it is there and if you want to focus on numeracy then why not? Many Primary schools find it the ideal package to support pupil’s learning in mathematics; shape, space, pattern, size and number. Using TechSoft Primary V3 to design presentation pages could, of course, be used anywhere in the curriculum.
Using TechSoft Primary V3 for CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) takes you onto another level – not only can you draw things, you can make them too!
Lines drawn in TechSoft Primary V3 are more than just images - in ‘computer-speak’ they are called vectors. These show you what you have drawn but also contain coordinates to ‘steer’ a CNC machine. A simple Stika machine makes a great starting point for proper CNC work. A Stika uses a tiny blade to cut a vast range of ‘applied media’ to make, for example, stickers, badges, or iron-on logos. The process is simple, safe and output is direct from the TechSoft Primary V3 drawing.
CNC milling and engraving machines work in the same way as knife-cutters but use a rotating ‘bit’ (rather like a drill) to cut and remove solid material. For an introduction to CNC machining, the Roland SRM-20E is the ideal choice for most Primary schools. Using the same TechSoft Primary V3 software, the SRM-20E will happily cut out shapes in light modelling materials to make, for example, accurate parts for projects, stamps, badges and moulds. The SRM-20E is safe and simple to use.
At its simplest, the Roland CAMM 1 GS-24E is a super-fast, super large Stika. It is therefore useful for enterprise projects, but there’s more to it than that! The GS-24E has an optical registration feature that allows the cut path to be aligned with printed graphics. It also has sufficient power to cut thin card. This means that stickers and card packaging nets can be printed using a regular printer and then cut-out to professional standards using the GS-24E.