Teacher Tip: First Aid Kit & Safety Equipment

I live a blessed life.  In the past eight quarters as a woodshop teacher (and going on one quarter as a chemistry/biology/mad science teacher) I have had four injury reports.  Not the best record, but not the worst.  During set-up this year, I ordered first aid kit for all the tool-heavy classrooms – gardening center, woodshop, chemistry/science lab & art class.  I also re-fitted my own space (my shop first aid kit keeps becoming the house’s first aid kit) with some important new tools and the accompanying pieces of safety equipment. So what safety equipment do I use? Home Workshop: Push Blocks … Continue reading Teacher Tip: First Aid Kit & Safety Equipment

Parenting: On Making Kids Who Make Stuff

1. Determine your child’s level of interest. A child who’s fascinated by tools or electrical equipment typically demonstrates an almost obsessive interest in them, pays attention, takes direction well, and instinctively focuses on the job at hand. I’ve taught soldering to children as young as eight, and their ability to concentrate is astonishing. If you’re a DIY enthusiast have a basement tool-and-gadget area, let your child see the fruits of working with these objects and identify with what Mom or Dad does to fix or make things. If you sense your child’s delight in imagining similar creative endeavors, then buying a … Continue reading Parenting: On Making Kids Who Make Stuff

Community Watch: Ponoko Online Webinars

Ponoko is one of the premier “making” companies on the net today.  Here’s the pitch:  you design it in CAD, you upload it, they make it.  In whatever material they have and you want.  They do 3d printing and laser-cutting.  I’ve been looking at various ways to create a “prototyping” lab in my classroom and these guys have been high on my to-checkout list. Seems they’ve been reading my mind (or blog).  I’m currently listening to the Google SketchUp & 3d Printing online webinar.  I won’t be asking any questions during the Q&A on audio, but I’m pretty sure I’ll … Continue reading Community Watch: Ponoko Online Webinars

If I Had a Boat (Sailing Curriculum Unit)

In my middle school/junior high class, we’ve been exploring the relationship between sails, force, momentum, foam boats and area.  I’ve used the unit to assess the graphing labs we conducted last quarter and introduce non-linear graphs. I began the unit by asking students to research old sailing boats and draw conclusions from the material they gathered.  The students completed a K-W-L chart.  I then introduced the question: what is the most efficient sail? After some fits and starts (we have been doing some standardized testing practice to get ready for this week’s Stanford tests) we realized we needed to ask … Continue reading If I Had a Boat (Sailing Curriculum Unit)

Teacher Tip: Use Two Bench Hooks

Dadoes are much easier to cut when you use two bench hooks…. You can even chisel out the waste right there.  My students are having such success using bench hooks, knee height workbenches and the tool chest I’m reconsidering my thoughts on bigger workbenches.  I’d like a better assembly table, but it ain’t nothing if I don’t have it. The kids are killing the simple bench project – in-progress pics coming soon. Continue reading Teacher Tip: Use Two Bench Hooks

Safety in the Shop: Other People’s Tools

This weekend I attended a welding class.  I’m trying to get some practice laying beads with a MIG welder.  A major safety hazard of welding is being “flashed” by the spark of electricity between the machine and workpiece.  “Flashing” means the brightness of the arc has burned your retinas and can cause severe eye irritation, temporary blindness, redness, etc.  You avoid this by wearing a proper welding helmet and warning bystanders that you will start welding. I, of course, got flashed this weekend. The fault wasn’t “my own”.  Meaning it wasn’t my personal action which cause the flash.  I kept … Continue reading Safety in the Shop: Other People’s Tools

Teacher Tip: Use Pilot Holes for Hammering!

When installing finishing brads and nails, I usually chuck the nail into the bit and punch a hole through the lumber.  This results in a minimal hole (the length of the nail minus the depth of my drill’s chuck jaws) which prevents most splitting. I recently “discovered” a secret – the deeper the pilot hole for my seven-year olds (2nd grade) the more successful the hammering.  Look at that kid go!  One handed, 7 oz claw hammer. He hammered those nails flush.  He could feel the excellence in his small act, see the effect in the larger project, and you … Continue reading Teacher Tip: Use Pilot Holes for Hammering!

Teaching New Techniques in the Woodshop

In the Masterclass, I had the oppurtunity to bring out my rasps. What a successful technique for my students to make matched part! I usually have to show a technique two or three times before a student picks it up – but this was pretty intuitive. I’m defnetely reworking the tool list: should I add Nicholson or Auriou? Continue reading Teaching New Techniques in the Woodshop