Learning physics and engineering can be exciting and rewarding, particularly for 10 students at Chaparral and five students at Desert Mountain High Schools who are learning to blend the subjects in order to build electric guitars.
The 15 students, three girls and 12 boys, meet with teachers Ann Hammersly, a physics teacher at Chaparral; Tom Vining, a physics teacher at Desert Mountain; and Jeff Jordan an engineering teacher at Chaparral; to build the electric guitars each Tuesday from 2:45-5:15 p.m. in an engineering classroom at Chaparral. It will take about 40-45 hours for the students to complete the guitars.
Before students began to build the electric guitars, they practiced using the power tools, including band saws, drill presses, power sanders and soldering irons, emphasizing technique and, most importantly, safety.
“New skills were first introduced during a group presentation and followed by one-on-one work with the instructors as the students progressed at their own pace through the building process,” said Ms. Hammersly.
Each student paid $275 for the electric guitar materials, and teachers are paid a stipend from Tax Credit money. The teachers also received a grant from the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation that was used to cover some tools and supplies.
During the electric guitar building process, students are learning woodworking skills, including the use of power and hand tools, electronic skills, specialized luthiery (guitar building) techniques, design skills as well as interpersonal skills of working closely with a variety of people to complete an extensive project.
“The students are seeing applications of their physics and engineering classwork in this project with concepts ranging from swirl painting chemistry to electronics, the physics of sound and the machinery used in the shop. Their woodworking skills have improved tremendously, as well as their confidence with power tools,” said Ms. Hammersly.
In 2011, Ms. Hammersly, Mr. Vining and Mr. Jordan learned about the program at a National Science Teachers Association Conference. They went on to build their own guitars and learn about the STEM concepts involved in summer 2012 at the College of Redwoods in Eureka, Calif. They had so much fun that they decided to share this with their students.
In 2012, 11 students built guitars with Ms. Hammersly, Mr. Vining and Mr. Jordan.
The project will be completed in early December.
The students and teachers will be working on the electric guitars from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Veterans Day – November 11th in Rooms G151/153 at Chaparral High School, 6935 E. Gold Dust Ave., Scottsdale 85253.
Scottsdale Unified School District, where we Engage, Educate and Empower Every Student, Every Day. The District and 19 schools have earned the state’s highest A-F Achievement Profile grade – A – by the Arizona Department of Education. For more information about Scottsdale Unified schools, please visit www.susd.org.