Updates is all about helping Design and Technology teachers with some of the latest technology and design tips. These come in the form of product reviews. Our aim is to keep bringing creative ideas into the classroom.

Touch Board Projects

The new touch board teamed up with conductive paint opens up a huge range of interactive possibilities by turning touch into sound. One of the main problems with electronics projects is ensuring that there is a good deal of creativity going on. We usually address this problem by engaging students in the design of casings and product design which is fine, but look at the touch board and you’ll see that creativity is needed from the outset. The results don’t even need to look like finished products. Use a touch board for proofs of concept (remember you can use conductive paint on paper) or in a final product. If you are looking for electronics with more creativity then here it is.

Bowlo Project

Sometimes the constraints of a process or material give birth to the most creative ideas. The ‘Bowlo’ project incorporates a range of processes and there are opportunities to be creative with each one. Students design and make a fruit bowl that works as an aesthetic piece, but also functionally. The bowls themselves are dome blown acrylic. This produced an effective bowl, but it just isn’t stable on the table. Students need to work out a way of making them stable so that the fruit does not fall out. There are a few ways this can be done. Watch the video to find out.

The material used is 4mm acrylic (3mm will be OK) and the processes are: laser cutting, heating, dome blowing, trimming, laser cutting (again). The range of creative possibilities are huge.

Power Anchor

The Power Anchor delivers current to up to two tethered vehicles as they drive around the unit. This is a great way to test powered vehicles without having to worry about a track or even putting a power source on the vehicle. With power and steering resolved, students can concentrate on other key design problems like drive system, aerodynamics and lift.

Setting up is a snack. The four batteries are enclosed in the base and hooking them up is straightforward. You can leave them in there until they go flat which took much longer than I expected. You should be able to run two or three full projects with a set of batteries. The real beauty is that it is totally portable, so setting up in a standard classroom or even better in the gym was easy. You’ll need a clear space of 4m diameter.

So this is how it works – your students make a vehicle with a motor and wheels (no steering, no power). The vehicle can be a car, ground-force vehicle or even a plane (see the projects below) and they are fast and easy to make. With the vehicle made, it is then connected using the tethers to the Power Anchor. The tethers also become the hook up wire to deliver current (12V) to the motor.

Students can control the power to the vehicle using a hand controller. The greatest learning actually goes on during the testing and modifying stages of the design process and I have found that more time is spent on this than the initial making. There are four projects you can run with the Power Anchor. They are full of solid content and really drive you through the design process. The ones I used hit the mark giving the students a quality making experience and encouraging thorough testing. The video says that making models helps you to solve problems, but it also helps you to understand the problem in the first place.

The Power Anchor projects help students understand problems through model making, testing and modifying. Find out more about Power Anchor.

The four Power Anchor projects:

  • Race & Chase, a simple fixed pulley vehicle suitable for school years 5 to 8. Find out more
  • Helicar, a propeller driven car suitable for school years 7 – 9. Find out more
  • Protocar, an experimental flying car challenge suitable for school years 9 – 11. Find out more
  • Skylap, an airplane design project suitable for school years 7 – 10. Find out more
  • Downforce Racer, a rear-wheel driven, geared racing car using CNC technology suitable for school years 9-11. Find out more


Multipanel is a newish material (closed cell expanded polyurathane composite) used in a range of applications from architectural detailing to model making. The beauty of the material is in its versatility. Cut it, file it, sand it, heat bend it, carve itlaser cut it, glue it – all easily. This makes it unparalleled as a workshop material. It comes in a standard sheet size (1200 x 2400) and a range of thicknesses (8mm – 30mm). In terms of the creative opportunity this material offers there is nothing else like it. It is rigid and quite structural and yet so easy to work. In terms of finishes you can paint it with acrylic house paint or spray it with enamel or duco. If you are creative you will be excited by the possibilities of this material. You should have some to play around with and let your imagination go for a run.