Making space for career exploration
J.C. Lyell, Staff Writer, [email protected]
South Harrison Community School Corp. students now have access to industry-standard tools, machines and training equipment used by manufacturing and agriculture professionals.
The corporation has transformed and upgraded a wing of Corydon Central High School into what is now called the South Harrison Maker Space and Vocational Agriculture Area.
A maker space is an area designed to encourage students to create things using modern technology and hands-on processes, said Ben Spencer, industrial arts teacher at CCHS.
“Learning occurs in a maker space through experimentation and trying new technical processes,” Spencer told attendees at a dedication ceremony and open house for the space before the school corporation’s December board meeting. “A maker space can include any number of different ‘maker’ tools, including CNC (computer numerical control) machines, 3D printers, screen printing, injection molding and numerous other tools/processes intended to channel students’ creativity.”
New to the maker space now is a CNC plasma-cutting machine, a CNC bench mill, two metal lathes, a combination shear, break and roll machine, a metal-cutting band saw, eight welding machines, new welding jackets, gloves and auto-dark helmets, and heavy-duty Stronghold storage cabinets.
“It’s all about exposure,” Spencer said. “We have the ability now to show them things they otherwise wouldn’t get to see. We hope it leads to a passion and, hopefully, a possible career.”
He said kids are hard to impress these days, given new technologies and how easy it is to research things they’re interested in on the internet.
“I think we have some more of the capabilities now to capture that interest and make it hands-on,” Spencer said.
Students in Spencer’s industrial arts classes at CCHS have already been at work utilizing some of the new equipment.
“I am most interested in the plasma CNC. Using the CNC, I have created a custom name plate, a toolbox and many small ornamental pieces,” said Nicholas Franchville, a senior. “I hope to learn more about what this technology is capable of and to use it to create a custom fire ring.”
Senior Cody Durbin said he thinks the maker space will provide experience that may give students a leg-up on competition in future career opportunities.
“I feel it’s always important to expand your horizons and learn new things,” he said. “Getting all this new equipment is going to open up career pathways to us that we didn’t even know existed.”
Alongside CCHS students, third-year engineering students from South Central Junior-Senior High School also travel to CCHS to take computer integrated manufacturing, using the maker space regularly.
In addition to renovations and additions in the school’s metal- and wood-working shops, the adjacent agriculture and vocational studies classroom has expanded its curricular capabilities with several new models and simulation technologies. These include animal systems kits with horse, cow, pig and chicken models; cattle hoof and uterus models; bovine injector and artificial insemination simulators; and a milking model.
The corporation has also purchased five new microscopes, plant cell and flower models, an electrical wiring simulation training board and a plant science kit for the classroom.
“All of the models create a hands-on learning exercise for the students to go more indepth to exceed the learning standards in the department,” said Whitney Sauerheber, agriculture instructor at CCHS.
She said the new equipment will allow students to have direct experience with aspects of animal and plant/soil science careers in the classroom without having to leave the school.
“This is going to be a career pathway for students,” Sauerheber said.
Bradley Hauswald, a freshman in one of Sauerheber’s agricultural studies classes already heading down a career path, works at Hauswald Farms with his father, Paul Hauswald. He said the new materials will help him with cattle in the real world.
“I have actually learned a lot from this new equipment, like the cow hoof model,” he said.
The goal, Sauerheber said, is to teach and show students what is involved in doing different jobs so they can decide what interests them, what doesn’t and what other topics they might like to explore.
“If I was 14 and they told me I had to choose a career path and go with it, I don’t know what I’d do, so it’s good to show them as many things as possible,” Sauerheber said.
As another part of the upgrades, the classroom’s size was expanded and it was outfitted with new lab and instructional tables, seating and storage cabinets.
Spencer said inspiration for the maker space and vocational agriculture enhancements started with a 2018 visit by administrators, board members, teachers and community leaders to Maker13, a professional co-working space in Jeffersonville with many similar features.
That trip, coupled with a needs assessment that identified under-utilized space in the shop and agriculture area at CCHS, led to a Revitalization Project Proposal that was approved by the SHCSC board last spring.
Spencer and Sauerheber, along with a handful of students from their classes, drafted the proposal.
The total cost of the project came in at roughly $175,000, said Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the school corporation.
Spencer told board members at the December open house that some parts of the renovations were able to be completed in-house using the new equipment to save costs.
For example, students refurbished tables by flipping over the old tabletops from the shop, applying a new finish and laser-engraving SHCSC and CCHS logos onto them. They also used pieces of scrap metal to expand the metal shop’s welding booths.
Spencer said the new equipment puts the school corporation ahead of much of the state in terms of vocational experience offerings.
“I don’t know of another school that can do what we can do now,” Spencer said. “We now have everything we need to teach kids all sorts of concepts and principles.”