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Lewis Jones, a Bri­tish PhD s tu­dent 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.

See more in­for­ma­tion about the pro­gramme here: clocks.lboro.ac.uk

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