Saturday, January 19, 2013

Field Trip!

Some students from New Horizons Center for Learning stopped by the school for a field trip, and I'd been racking my brain, trying to come up with a project for them to make. The best way to get someone interested in something is by letting them get their hands on it, right? 

I decided to glue up a bunch of small clip board blanks for them to sand and finish. Everyone can use a small clip board, right? Good news is that scrap wood piles up fast around the shop, so I had a ton of material to use. Here are stack of sticks, waiting to be glued. 

These kids are probably not going to be college bound. The school works with kids who have not been successful in a traditional school setting . That might mean learning disabilities, or health issues, whatever.

My buddy Eric offered to help with the group. That's a big offer, coming from someone who isn't a "kid" person, nor a morning person. 

Lupe offered to help too, and considering she had just gotten off a plane and was fighting a terrible sinus thing - it was miracle she made it! Since she was on camera duty, I didn't get a shot of her with the kids. But I snuck a photo of her today, while she was working on her massive bookcase. 

(Why do the littlest woodworkers always build the biggest pieces?)

The day started with a stack of clipboard blanks, and a box of safety glasses. 


Everyone tried on their glasses

while I explained what we'd be doing. 

We gathered 'round the planer, while I showed them how to take a rough block of wood and plane it down into a smooth panel.  

Then we gathered by the tablesaw while I explained how cool the SawStop is, and how it features flesh detection technology. Damn, if I had planned a little better, I could have asked SawStop for a demo cartridge and blade, and we could have run a hot-dog through it. 

Next time!

Eric passed out sanders while Lupe made sure everyone everyone used the right grit of sandpaper. 

Watching these kids fire up a sander and work on their boards was pretty great. 

It was apparent that some of the kids needed a little help, and you know - some of the classmates put their work down to help the others! It was pretty inspiring. 

We oiled the boards at the community workbench in the center of the room - 

and everyone loved the colors of the woods that the oil brought out. 

Eric was a huge help to some of the kids, 

who couldn't get the hang of the screwdrivers. 

The look on their faces pretty much says it all. I was sort of worried that they'd think this project was dumb; I should have known better!

At the end of the day, we gathered around to share some final thoughts and answer woodworking questions. Honestly, it's so easy to forget that initial rush of satisfaction you get from completing your first woodworking project. I think these kids reminded Eric, Lupe and me.

Before they left, we got a group shot, 

and one of the kids slipped this note into my hand as he boarded the van. I shared it with his teacher, who was surprised he'd written it. She said that she'd never seen him show so much interest or excitement over something like this shop visit. 

To tell you the truth, I think I learned as much from their visit (in a very different way) as they did. What a nice afternoon. 

Thanks again to my partners in sawdust - Eric and Lupe.  And to the kids of the New Horizons Center for Learning for sharing their talents with us. 


Jay Amundson said...

I know your excitement, Jamie. I have a wife who was, and daughter who is an EH high school teacher. The kids never cease to amaze me.

Vegas Lupe said...

I wanted to let your readers know how conscientious you were in anticipation of this field trip. Within the last few weeks, you took the time to cut all the pieces of wood, combine them, glue them, clamp them, plane them and cut them to size, along with ordering the required hardware and materials for the project. When you glued them, you probably used all the small clamps in your workshop!

Your teaching style is confident and relaxed, and you taught the kids woodworking basics, that I wish someone would have given me when I was their age. In addition to that, they discovered how fun and rewarding this wonderful craft can be. They were so into what they were doing that it was difficult to even tell that they had any learning disability.

As we grow older, and get set into our jobs and routines, we take what we do for granted, and often forget the influence that we have upon other people. You did touch those kids’ lives that day and I am grateful I was part of the experience.

John said...

Outstanding Jamie, isn't it great to see the light go on in a kids eyes when he/she realizes they can accomplish something? I love teaching but not ready to get out of retirement and renew my certificate. This is something these kids will more than likely cherish, don't be surprised if one of them doesn't show up for a class of yours clutching that clipboard in a few years! Well done -- John