Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dad's Basement Workshop and Sixth Grade Science

It was in the basement, and it was where things got fixed. Window screens were made there. Baby food jars whose lids had been nailed to the underside of a shelf contained tacks and brads and staples. And there were cigar boxes with labels like "rope, light wire" and "small bolts." That was over half a century ago.

The family workshop, kid accessible, is a rarity these days.

When Mrs. T at a local private school began to appreciate that she had students who had no opportunity to work with their hands in the world of mechanical things, she asked me if I could help. Together we concocted this little series of science classtimes centered around "attaching things." The ostensible goal was to create a sculpture out of found objects. In fact, the kids were getting their hands on screws and bolts, adhesives from epoxy to polyurethanes and--the coolest of all--pop rivets! If you're going to use those things, you'll need to know about some tools, too.

I heard myself sounding like Norm on New Yankee: "Before we get started, let's talk about safety..."

I supplied the boxes of stuff--note the closeup of the sculpture in progress--and trays of fasteners and gobs of glue.

There was 100% interest on the part of the kids. Like bringing water to the thirsty, I brought stuff and they figured out how to use it. Smiles and intense questions were reward enough.

Many people I know volunteer at schools more than I do. But if you're not one of those, consider teachers' jobs right now, and the distractions that conspire to keep them from doing the best they can to prepare these future citizens, craftspeople, innovators, parents, for a life far more complicated than we can imagine.

Take your craft, your art, your skill, your experience into the office at your closest school and find out where you can fit in. An hour a week!

To be fair, it may take more than one try to find the age group you're wired for. But once you do, you'll be stuck to this service like you'd fallen into a large vat of epoxy, lag bolts, wood clamps, lock washers, phillips head screws, and, yes, pop rivets.

1 comment:

Joel Byron Barker said...

Quite cool. It is great to see you showing the joy of hands-on doings to kids. I bet that it will pop into their heads some time years from now when they are doing home improvement stuff and mixing epoxy on a bit of cardboard at the kitchen table.