Metals program builds strong foundation, remotely

Metals program builds strong foundation, remotely
Posted on 11/04/2020

In a typical year, Tahoma High School students in Scott Newton’s metals classes would be designing and creating projects in the shop, measuring cutting, drilling and wire feed welding. This year has been anything but typical, but Newton and his students have found new ways to learn and build in the remote setting.

Students and some parents asked how a welding class could be taught online. Newton says he simply views it as a new challenge. “We always have challenges in the classroom -- from time limits to equipment and so on. I’m approaching it from that perspective, and I hope it rubs off on the kids a little bit to make the most of what they have.”

The Metals 1 class has spent time completing all their safety training so that when COVID-19 numbers allow a return to in-person learning, his students can hit the ground running, safely. They have also focused on learning the design process using a Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) although they are using a new online program called OnShape because it wasn’t feasible to use their usual program, Inventor. OnShape can run on any device from Chromebooks to phones, and Newton says it is allowing his students to learn the skills they’ll need to use Inventor when they get back to the building.

In recent weeks, the class tackled a new project to build their own scribe, a tool used to mark a piece of sheet metal. It can be set to mark at a certain distance, then used to swipe across the edge of the metal. It can also be adapted depending what it will be used to mark with or on, Newton said.

Student photo Metals“We designed and built a whole scribe from our homes,” said Callie Milam, a freshman in Newton’s class. “I liked that first we got to put it together on Onshape (The designing program). Then we got to put it together in real life in our own homes, it was really fun!”

“I think it’s so cool that I can go around and show and tell my family all about what I’ve been doing during metals. I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything, and then we learned how to design things online and our teacher Mr. Newton would cut them at the school,” Milam said. “I never expected to learn all that I did because I thought metals was just welding and building things, but it was more than that.”

The scribe project offered students the chance to practice design, layout, deburring, fit and finish skills, and cutting threads. All of those skills will carry over to other projects they will complete later, Newton said. “A long time ago, a shop teacher said, ‘It’s not the project, it’s the process,’” he said.

Most of the beginning metals students have not used a scribe before because it’s a metalworking tool, but when they return to in-person learning, they’ll be able to use the scribe on projects they complete in class, he added.

Student photo MetalsAdvanced metals students have been learning about how in industry a project would be contracted for design, then built out. “(Metals) is such a broad subject area. There’s a lot to learn about welding processes, and the design process, so we can lean more heavily on those,” Newton said.

In another project, students were assigned to complete some type of small home improvement project. It didn’t need to be expensive, require any new tools or supplies, or take a significant amount of time. Instead, the idea was that each student would sit down with their parents or guardians, get permission to complete a project and find out what would be helpful, such as putting felt pads on the bottom of kitchen chairs and table to protect the floor; touching up paint or drywall; oiling the hinges on a door or cupboard. It was an opportunity to learn something, help out around the house and recognize similar concepts.

“I always tie it back to: There are so many similarities when you’re working with your hands in all of these trades. For example, the concept of deburring (in metalworking), clamping things down when you drill, or always sanding in one direction,” Newton said. “These are fundamental concepts that doing things around the house are going to help with. Yeah, maybe they’re patching drywall, but they’re working with their hands and learning a new skill.”

photo of student in Metals program

During supply pick-up, metals students collected a kit including safety glasses, a “C” clamp to use as a vice, sandpaper and other necessary materials and items for projects such as the scribe project this quarter.

“I am so impressed with the work of Mr. Newton and his students as they find unique and meaningful ways (such as the scribe project) to understand the design process and the hands-on opportunities that are associated with our Metals classes during this challenging time,” said Marty Barber, Associate Principal and CTE Director for THS.

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