foolfillment: the blog

Higher Product Design

6:43 pm on the 26th of May, 2010

This coming year we will be running Product Design for the first time at Hawick High School. The course is being offered at Higher and Intermediate 2 level but all students will follow roughly the same scheme of work. In the interests of sharing I’m making resources available here and will give a rough overview of how I have planned out the course. As this is the first time there will no doubt be changes made for future years, and even throughout the coming year. Never the less I have been given a lot of help from other technology teachers in Scotland over the last few months while I have planned this out, and to make it easier for others who might be in the same situation these might be a useful start point.

At the bottom of this post are links to the resources I will be using with the class.

The school will be changing timetable before the Summer break and I plan to use this time to run a short project looking at benches in the neighbouring park. Students will evaluate the benches and then also make up a specification for new outdoor furniture. Each part of the project will get one week, and are to be seen as a practice for the real items of work the students will produce for their Unit evidence.
After the break we will get straight into evaluating a product. There are a selection of products in school and there is scope for the students to propose something of their own. Then a quick one week designing project focussing on quick idea generation and modelling skills. By the end of the week each student should have produced a design to be manufactured using the RapMan rapid prototyper in school.
The next piece of work will be the generation of a Product Design Specification. Students will be given the task of creating a fully fleshed out spec for a life raft on a Northlink ferry. In the middle of this work we will also have another quick designing project based around (probably) an egg cup. The focus for that being market research and quick modelling.
Following the PDS task we have another 1 week project – really just a week focussing purely on graphic skills, looking at household items such as shavers, irons, kettles. Students will be required to create a range of sketched and drawings, with varying levels of rendering and detail added.
Then we move onto Unit 2, Developing Design Proposals. I have put together a brief and some information similar to that in a Design Assignment, students are to design and model a proposal for a desk/storage problem in a modern design studio. This project should form the basis for most of the evidence for this unit, but work from the two quick designing projects might be used, particularly any graphic work. This will take us up to the Christmas break.

After Christmas we will look at previous work and tidy up any outstanding evidence requirements, but mainly we will be looking at formalising the students notes on topic areas we look quickly at in the first term, and those we haven’t covered yet. Following htis we have the prelims and then the design assignment.

Alongside all of the above work I intend to spend a period a week looking at the Design for Manufacture unit, giving lecture-style lessons followed by time for students to make useful notes. The students will be expected to read ahead and will be working mainly from the green Leckie and Leckie book.

Students will also be sketching regularly, 5-10 minutes most days, with the best work going in a display stuck to the outside of my classroom door.

Files I will use:
StudentGuide – a booklet outlining the course and its requirements, includes SQA DA information.
Projects – more information about each of the blocks of work we will go through.
DfM Questions – questions to support the Design for Manufacture lectures.
Higher product design Planning – Excel spreadsheet that will possibly make no sense to anyone but me, but an outline of the course.

Thanks to everyone who has given me tips and resources in the last few months, you know who you are.

As ever the resoucres are free for you to use, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 UK: Scotland.

I would be keen to know if you do use this stuff so a comment would be nice, also there is likely to be a few glaring mistakes/omissions/typos in there somewhere so feel free to point them out to me.

Finally, as I said at the top of the post this is the plan, it is open to change, and might not work in practice, I would be very happy if you had any suggestions for how it might be changed to be more successful.


  1. Krysia


    I ‘ve finally had a good look through your powerpoints and even your spreadsheet – makes for interestin reading and gives lots of food for thought. You’ve been very thorough in your prep – thats for sure and I’m defo going to be using your DfM questions – very nice btw, not past papers but excellent supporting questions. Really impressed by the thought you’ve put into them.

    Here’s a few small thoughts I had when reading through…

    Product Evaluation/Analysis – I would let pupils choose their products and I would defo not go down the consumer electronics line. Use products that you can create measurable tests for that relate to a good range of design factors, ergonomics, function durability. Kettles!! Love kettles, got so much (and easy) design factors. Others that have proven successful this year have beem: ball pumps, thermal mugs, tin openers – the can openers were superb ( we have a Le Cruset, an Asda one and a GoodGrips one). Also in the product evaluation – rather than A4 report we do an A3 folio, works well in format and has a more ‘design/sketchy’ layout.

    Another tiny wee point was, are you planning to spend a whole period lecturing on things such as Rotational Moulding? As facinating as it is, I would tend to cover the basics of plastic processes in a shorter period of time. Same with your other DfM topics…?

    Another thing that i did this year was a bit of reverse engineering – pulling products apart – TV, breadmaker, playstation contollers, x-box apart, taking photos/ identifying processes/how things fit together. spent about a week getting hands on with all the technical aspects of how things work etc. proved useful for the DA, crucial that pupils offer solutions within the DA about how the product actually works not just ‘by a majic button’.

    Can’t think of anything else constructive to say but great post I’ve learnt a lot :-)

  2. stuart

    Hi Krysia, thanks for looking through it all.

    I’ll try to come to each of your points.

    I have been worried about the choice of product for evaluation, I always try to steer clear of electronic things, but I have heard a few people say they go with things like mobile phones. I have a couple of kettles and the promise of 5 hoovers.

    Do you have any reports scanned or photographed I could look at? Curious to see the different type of layout.

    I like the idea of pulling things apart and plan to do the same at some points, though not sure about pulling apart a TV – far too many caps inside that I wouldn’t want people poking around with. We’ll be doing some plastics testing for sure, and hopefully some more time on identifying features, materials and reasons for material choice.

    The DfM questions are supposed to be good for making notes first of all, then there will be regular homework based on past papers and sample questions, that way we’ll get a good set of notes for revision, and practice at answering the question types.

    You can put all this down as CPD you know!

    For the DfM ‘lectures’ I plan to cover things as they are in the spreadsheet, but with things like processes where there is a lot of repetition of content I will leave more time for note taking rather than the lecture and try to couple similar processes together. As with anything like this the actual events will no doubt be different from the plans.

  3. Mr T

    Looks like you are well prepared, but try not to stick to more than a few loose deadlines. Design is a ‘fuzzy’ activity and so is the teaching of it……..(Adv HPD PA quote)

    I would recommend finsihing the product Evaluation report by Oct hols, this relies on secure knowledge of at least the basic 8-10 design issues. I would say to do it as a Word report rather than A3 design folio, which you can do for the DDP unit. The DDP unit cna be sampled form a range of work, but aim for that to be done by Nov.

    Aim for doing a previous years DA by Xmas, give another one out the week before Xmas and for the Xmas hols. That way they come back and have secure knowledge of designing and can cope witht eh DA in Jan and you can concurrently teach any gaps and Manufacturing knowledge running up to the Prelims and the DA deadline.

    Have fun, I have posted a few pics of this years DAs respones on my blogg.

    If you want ‘readable’ copies of the DAs email me.

    Mr T

  4. stuart

    Thanks for the comment Mr T, and thanks for the stuff you have sent me. All been put to good use.

    I always make deadlines, but always know that they will disappear as soon as the year starts, there are a few fixed ones in there and they aren’t too far after the ones you suggest.

  5. Elaine


    Found your pages while looking for stuff for Product, I have been teaching the subject for the last few years. I use the same timeline that you have planned. Before the Summer hols I completed a shoe design project with the class creating 3 A3 sheets and a product model, that allows me to really see where the pupils are at and check on all their drawing skills and pace of works etc. like your idea of the park benches – might try that next session, I try as much as possible to use a two year plan for the Int 2 S5 pupils who come back in S6 for Higher.

    One of the other things that is successful for the DfM unit is to give the pupils each a topic to investigate, ie rotational moulding, and get them to prepare a presentation and then they give it to the class. I also get the pupils to up load their presentation to GLOW and then they can use the presentations when they are revising.

    For the Product Evaluation I do a word report and use a hand held products such as a tin opener (each pupil uses a different product) and get the pupils to carry out user tests and surveys, then they have definitive evidence to refer to for the report. I do the next part of the DA again using a written report with chairs as the theme, this is the unit that the pupils can find more difficult.

    Good luck, hope everything goes well, stick to your deadlines always a challenge for the pupils!


  6. stuart


    Thanks for the comment, just back from holiday hence the delay in publishing it.

    Good to hear that what I have planned might work. Thanks for the pointers and the comment about Int2 to Higher, will have to take that into account in future years, though this year most of the class are S6.

    The bench analysis worked well, it gave them a real eye-opener in terms of the type of work that is required and a couple of them probably have enough now to count as a pass for that outcome.

    I’ll be using glow quite a bit with this class so already had a few ideas similar to yours on the DfM unit.


  7. R Clements

    good stuff mate, came in handy…… I’ll have a look through any resources I have and send u anything i find is useful.

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