Mantua – The Eighth Grade Crestwood Middle School Pre-Engineering Academy, under the direction of instructor Ed Judd, have the opportunity not only to learn valuable engineering skills, but to how to accurately present their ideas to potential clients. According to Judd, the Acedemy took root when Crestwood Middle School Principal, Julie Schmidt, wanted to add an additional “Star” class to the school’s schedule. They worked to design the Pre-Engineering Academy — a nine-week class offered to 8th graders to introduce basic engineering concepts. Explains Judd, “In addition to sketching isomorphic and orthographic figures, hearing from local engineers, researching different engineering careers and learning and using computer assisted design software, the students were in need of an assessment to demonstrate what they have learned. A real-world, “hands on” project seemed like a logical choice.”
To date, the class has completed five projects. Last year, the initial group of students was asked to design and build a rear projection screen to be used for two school assemblies. They divided into groups two groups and built two functional designs. A video documenting their design-and-build process can be found at the Crestwood website on Judd’s online classroom page at crestwoodschools.org.
During the next nine-weeks, Physical Education instructor Mary Beth Thigpen, needed a variety of target games for students to master in order to meet the state’s new curriculum standards. The Pre-Engineering class designed and built six individual target games, complete with instructions. Thigpen has now used these games for the past three nine-week periods.
Earlier this fall, when the Middle School went through ALICE training – Crestwood’s new and improved lock-down procedures — students were motivated to solve another real-world issue. ALICE training includes an escape plan for the students to avoid contact with an armed intruder, should one gain access to the school. Students wanted to create a way for the students located in upstairs classrooms to be able to escape the building without having to access the hallways. The students determined that the best option was to build escape ladders for each second floor classroom. The students were divided into groups, and then designed, built and tested six individual escape ladders.
Another school project included designing four-person picnic-style tables out of a single sheet of plywood using no fasteners. The student-designed tables were used in the Middle School courtyard, and are easy to collapse and store when not in use. But Judd was interested in helping his students gain valuable experience from businesses within the local community to further broaden their horizons. And he found a willing partner while shopping for groceries at Poloskey’s Meat Shoppe Inc, in Mantua. The owner, Brooke Poloskey, had mentioned that she was rearranging the layout of her store. Judd offered the services of his students to assist with the redesign.
Poloskey visited the class to ask them for some help in designing and building a display to showcase a toy train set in the shop. Since shelf space is a priority at the small shop, the train had resided on top of a produce cooler where few people saw it. The Pre-Engineering Academy students were asked to design an area for the train to be viewed and enjoyed by the patrons. The class agreed that the train needed to be suspended from the ceiling so that the train could be viewed anywhere in the store. Ms. Poloskey supplied the class with the train and the tracks so that they were able to accurately measure and plan for the platform to be built. The finished result has been installed at the shop, so the next time you are at Poloskey’s, make sure to look for it. Ms. Poloskey is pleased with the students’ work. “The kids took the project and ran with it. And my customers love the end result.” Which was the goal Judd had for his students all along. “My greatest hope is that my students realize they can solve real-world problems now, as young adults, using the knowledge and schooling they have obtained at Crestwood.”
So what’s next for Judd’s Pre-Engineering Academy? Jozsef Jakab, the Dean of Students and Athletic Director notified his class that the Middle School’s soccer team doesn’t have a usable goal for their practice sessions. Jakab has asked the class to design and build a soccer goal for their use. In addition, the class was very fortunate to have been awarded a $500 grant from the Hiram Community Trust Fund. The funds will be used to purchase tools and supplies, and to reach out to the community to solicit issues that need solutions. The class looks forward to hearing from area business like Poloskey’s Meat Shoppe in order to give back to the community that has supported them.
Judd concludes, “If one of my students decides to pursue engineering as a career because of their exposure in this class, it will have been well worth the time and effort.”