This Week in the Classroom: Pantographs

My school spends a lot of time, energy and financial resources on project-based learning.  In my experience, teachers use project-based learning as a catch-all term for anything from make-it-take-it projects which last twenty minutes to inquiry-driven, rubric-graded, long-term explorations.  Calling the former project-based learning is lazy and misdirection.  Creating incredible experiences for students with the latter definition is exhausting and rewarding.  Most of the time, a teacher must follow a middle course.  This is one of those projects. We started off by designing and building pantographs.  If you don’t know anything about pantographs – check out the video below.  Also … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Pantographs

Classroom Project: Try Squares

In my Applied Mathematics class, woodshop has put the shop in applied.  During a unit on fractions, I asked students to build a number of these try squares, all different shapes and sizes.  In order to assess my students ability to read a ruler and calculate fractions, I made all the dimensions wonky.  No 8″ cuts for my students!  Dimensions looked like 8 3/4″, 4 3/8″, 5 “1/16 and all sorts of foolishness.  Once I felt my students had mastered the build process, we took our show to Houston’s Mini-Maker Faire! The construction process for a tool like this can … Continue reading Classroom Project: Try Squares

Community Watch: Houston Mini-Maker Faire

On Jan. 19th, I had the chance to attend and participate in Houston’s first annual Mini-Maker Faire.  I brought 8 students, 3 fellow teachers (or maybe Ms. J brought me), a woodworking bench, my traveling chest of hand tools and a whole lot of salvaged pine. Maker Faire brings together families and individuals to celebrate the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset and showcase all kinds of incredible projects. At Maker Faire, you’ll find arts and crafts, science and engineering, food and music, fire and water but what makes this event special is that all these interesting projects and smart, creative people belong … Continue reading Community Watch: Houston Mini-Maker Faire

Community Watch: Build A Box!

Eight students, six boxes built and finished.  It was a long day in the shop – nearly seven hours with only a few breaks for liquids.  I can  think of a number of great moments: the first box getting nailed together, the last coat of shellac being applied, the look of what-have-I-got-myself-into as the students tackled nearly 40 linear feet of hardwood for the first time.  We captured the moment which stands out most for me in the picture below. Take a good look at the boy in the white shirt.  Take a good look at his smile.  He didn’t get … Continue reading Community Watch: Build A Box!

Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

Today at TX/RX Labs, I’ll be leading a class in building a few of these tea boxes.  I’m sending a box to one random contestant on WoodshopCowboy Facebook page, just in time for Christmas. Remember to like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook! And remember: Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

This Week In the Classroom: Sketch Up Projects at the Middle School Level

In support of my Mathematics and Technology and Computer Applications: CAD courses, I’ve offered a number of Sketch Up projects for students to complete.  In Mathematics and Technology, my students created eukaryotic animal cells while in Computer Applications the students created square, triangle and hexagon – based tessellations and designs.  Two resources I used heavily in the design and implementation of these projects:  Google Sketch Up 8 Hands – On: Student Coursework and the GeomeTrick series both by Bonnie Roskes of http://www.3dvinci.net. Ms. Roskes projects have a real wow factor in the classroom.  My students would shout my name to show off their work, … Continue reading This Week In the Classroom: Sketch Up Projects at the Middle School Level

This Week In the Shop: One Block Projects – Book Ends

A little while ago, I ran a book review on One Block of Wood.  I recently made a pair of bookends using Ms. Tolstrup’s plans out of salvaged pine and live oak.  Hope you enjoy the looksee.  Read a good book this week. Especially books on pirates! Make it safe & keep the rubberside down. Continue reading This Week In the Shop: One Block Projects – Book Ends

This Week in the Classroom: Try Squares

My new “little” project obsession:  try squares.  These guys mark boards square.   That’s it.  All they do.  The try, not tri, comes from the act of “trying” an angle to see if it’s square, not three, or tri. This slideshow punctuated by a few of my favorite song titles, puns and lyrics in no particular order. These tools come together quite easily.  First, I rip a 2×4 into 1/4″ or 3/8″ inch thick strips.  Then I flatten one side of the strip using a hand plane.  After checking each strip for flatness, I rip the piece again on my … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Try Squares

This Week in The Shop: Arts & Crafts Inspired Picture Frames

Here’s some pictures of completed Arts & Crafts type frames I’ve put together over the last few weeks – along with some older frames still in use.  The wife’s given me a commission to cover our living room wall.  Got a bit more wall to cover, but I feel like I’m getting the style down. Bridle joints on every corner.  Every frame is oak, whether white, red or salvaged.  My finishes are all over the place – Danish oil, polyurethane, spar urethane, polycrylic.  I’m not really worried about matching.  I’ve brush, sprayed and rubbed.  Just experiments in style. Make it safe … Continue reading This Week in The Shop: Arts & Crafts Inspired Picture Frames

This Week in the Classroom: Gottshall Block Project

I’ve heard before from others in the “making” or woodworking communities I’m a little behind the times.  I make cigar box guitars when they were totally two years ago.  Or I teach developmental woodworking in manner more suited to a different century.  So of course, I discover a sweet little hand tool project about a year too late.  Good thing great projects don’t age. The Gottshall Block is a small project – just a few cuts and nicks with a chisel.  It takes about three to five forty-five minute sessions to complete for a student at about the third grade … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Gottshall Block Project