Lewis Jones, a British PhD student at Loughborough University, is at the forefront of a new secondary school programme designed to encourage younger teens in the UK to get more involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The approach and ethos for his project ‘Clocks as a Learning Tool’ is rooted in the interaction between using the mechanics of horology and the basic skills in engineering together to help demonstrate the value of hands-on learning in schools.
The idea behind the ‘build-your-own-clock project’ is to exemplify the craftsmanship of laser cutting that has simply declined in use due to the progressions in precision of new technologies such as the CAD/ CAM systems. Jones’ demonstration of the importance of laser cutters in artisan technology like horology sends a subtlety warm sense of reassurance that there are still young advocates who appreciate the enduring practical skills to be found within industry. Jones commented on the progress of the programme so far saying, “The results with pupils has been great. The mechanism is easy to manufacture and assemble, and on their own they can investigate how clockwork mechanisms work.” Aided by his professor, John Tyrer, from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing engineering at the university, Jones is calling on British Horological Institute (BHI) members to help develop an MDF (Medium-density fibreboard) based clock model that will be simple and straightforward for everyday construction in the classroom. Director Ross Alcock says of the requirements, “We are looking for a simple clock with the minimum number of components possible. At this stage we just need the movement, not the dial, as hopefully the pupils will design their own at a later stage.” By bringing such learning techniques back into the classroom it will hopefully spark the youth of today’s interest and go on to inspire their generation in contemporary and 21st century horology.
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