An after school snack of apple juice and granola bars powered 12 enterprising young students “Up and Away” in their Project Enrich Design and Manufacturing class. The group meets once per week for six weeks to learn about a subject that interests them outside of the regular school day.
“I thought this course looked interesting because it included a lot of drawing,” said Aiden Taylor from Moreau Elementary School in South Glens Falls. Little did Aiden know that he would also learn to program one of the Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines in the classroom.
“We have $100,000 worth of new equipment in this classroom,” said Instructor David Coonradt. “We might as well put it to good use!”
As Mr. Coonradt passed around pencils, graph paper, and math compasses, one student asked: “If this is a machine shop, how come you don’t have an electric pencil sharpener?”
“Sometimes it’s better to do things manually,” said Mr. Coonradt, as he reminded the class how to read the blueprint on the projector so they could draw it for themselves. As they talked about the measurements on the blueprint, they fluidly switched from decimals to fractions and meters to inches. In manufacturing, you have to be able to convert the measurement to whatever device or tool you’re using, understand why you’re doing it, and make sure it’s correct.
“At this age, students have learned fractions, and how to convert fractions to decimals, but this project brings the skills to life,” said Mr. Coonradt. “I think the students see why that is a valuable skill, and they can visualize how and when they will use that skill in their lives.”
For students like Emery Jones from Lake George, who “likes to build stuff,” and Joe Ross, also from Lake George, who wants to be an engineer, these are the foundational tools they will use throughout their lives.
WSWHE BOCES Project Enrich Courses are offered every fall, spring, and summer. They are coordinated by the Gifted and Talented Resource Center. Up and Away Design and Manufacturing is offered at the Southern Adirondack Education Center in Hudson Falls, but the after school enrichment programs also take place at the F. Donald Myers Education Center in Saratoga Springs and at several component school districts such as Ballston Spa and Granville.
For more information about Project Enrich, please contact Gifted and Talented Program Manager Kim Wegner at 518-581-3580.