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What projects draw in students? Options
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8:19:36 AM
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Joined: 3/9/2007
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Location: Paw Paw, Mi
I teach a traditional high school woodworking course (think 50's style industrial arts). 9th grade is the first chance in the district the students have to take woodworking and can continue through 12th grade. We build small projects in the beginning class to introduce the students to the machining process and safety. Advanced 1 starts with a the class building the same project 1st semester. 2nd semester they are able to build a project with a door drawer or lid. Advanced 2 cabinet making is introduced 1st semester and then second semester the student may design a project or build a project from plans on the internet or from a book (within reason). Advanced 3 the student is required to research a style of furniture and build a piece based on the research.

We build everything... small desk clocks, gun cabinets, hope chests, kitchen cabinets, guitars, and recurve bows. I am looking for projects that attract students to the program that can be made in the beginning class. Any thoughts would be great!

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 10:00:21 AM
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Joined: 4/2/2008
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Location: Wisconsin
A tablet/phone stand might be something that kids would really use and could be as complex or simple as you wanted to make it.

simple boxes are a project that many kids get into in my class. again, it is a project that can be done a variety of ways to suit the needs of the class.

I want to do a lamp project, but haven't figured out all of the details yet. I have one that my dad made in shop class in the 60's that I think kids would like.
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:09:12 PM
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Joined: 4/16/2006
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Location: Bend, Oregon
I have Begining and Advanced woods courses. 7 period day with 50 minute classes and the students are enrolled for a full year. Average class size is 25. My beginers start with hand tool projects and skill excercises in conjunction with learning proper power tool safety. At the end of the semester the students start with power tool projects with every student building a 3 drawer nightstand. I have 12 different projects for my advanced students with 4 of them being rocking chairs. All of the projects have a much higher degree of difficulty. Students must have at least a B to enroll in Advanced. I would like to add a design/build class but have too many students that want a beginning class.
The students seem to enjoy most of the hand tool projects and most nightstands 95+% go home. Same for Advanced projects.
I work at a 1500 student HS and get over 500 requests for a seat in a woodworking class.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 2:00:50 PM
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Joined: 2/8/2010
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Location: Canaan NH
Write grants get mini lathes. Pens, bowls and whistles have done wonders for my enrollement. Only takes a few class periods and kids get to take lots of swag home.

Band saw boxes are also a quick project that look good quickly. The kids that want to make endtables, bookshelves and snowboard/skateboard racks

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8:08:42 PM
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Joined: 3/16/2006
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Location: Madison,VA
Candle holders... Think tea candles...
A 1-1/2" Forstner bit is needed...
Have students design their own or give them a basic design to follow...

Oversized dice...

Trivets... Just google it...

I take small scraps and have the students do a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 5" glue up...
Then I cut on the bias to create quilted door stops which they sand and finish.
The designs are always one-of-a-kind and a surprise which the students love...
Plus they wind up with TWO to take home!!!

Boot Jacks...

Any kind of games or puzzles...

Hope this helps...
Joe Novack
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 12:07:51 PM
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Joined: 8/8/2012
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Location: West Linn, OR
One project that I offer that's very popular is called a message center (the students call it a mini white board). It's basically a wood frame made out of 1x 3's (mostly because I have a lot on hand) which is 15" x 15" inside.

They dowel join the top to the side rails, and the bottom, which is turned so the width is parallel to the ground, gets screwed into the side rails. They use the router to cut a cove in the bottom piece for the dry erase markers and to cut a 1/8" x 1/2" rabbet in the back to accommodate the white board material.

I chose the size because I can get 18) 16" x 16" squares of material out of a 4 x 8 sheet of "shower board".

7th and 8th graders have no problems with this (may be too easy for some 8th graders). 6th graders kind of struggled although to their credit, the original design (that I got off the net) had the side rails going all the way up past the top rail. I changed it for this trimester so the top extends all the way out past the sides, making it much easier to clamp together during assembly.

Another project that I came up with on the fly (may or may not be good for older students) is a small bench that is made out of 2 x 4's. The legs are 1' long, made from 2x4's ripped in half. The rest is made from 3/4"x11/2" slats ripped from the 2x4's. The finished project, which is just under 1' tall x 9" wide x 14" long, looks sort of like a miniature saw horse or picnic table. The one downer may be all of the table saw work (which I do for them). The students do the rest. Another bottleneck potentially could be the crosscutting, although I have a power miter box and 4 manual miter boxes which helps. This project could be good also for a factory type of format.

Who knows maybe these would be good warmup or practice projects for older students to start with before moving on to more complex things.

Good luck! I am also constantly searching for projects that work within the constraints of my budget, are age appropriate, meet the learning targets that I want to hit, while appealing to the students' tastes.
Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 10:00:28 AM
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Joined: 5/2/2007
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Location: Grants Pass, Oregon
All of the above sound like great ideas. There's just one thing I would like to add to the conversation. When I started teaching woods I had a mentor who was beyond compare. Woodnfire here on this site is the guy. I was lucky to have four years under his wings before I struck out on my own at another school.

All of that being said, there is nothing that can replace the teacher. Woodnfire's classrooms are full because of him, not the projects he chooses to offer to his students. He could have them making fire logs out of sawdust and the kids would be lining up to take his classes. Students come back after high school year after year just to see how he's doing. It's all about the relationships you foster. These kids are not stupid, they can tell when you really care about them and their education.
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