Charting a new course in design

September 23, 2016

By Neil Corbett – Maple Ridge News

UBC has a blue whale skeleton on display in its Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Now Westview secondary – home of the Wildcats – has a saber-toothed tiger skeleton hanging from the roof of the school’s library.

It’s Styrofoam, not bone, but there’s a solid story behind it, about the way kids are learning in schools.

It starts with a shop teacher getting together with a tech teacher to devise a new industrial design course for kids in grades 11 and 12.

The best year of professional development in the 12-year career of Westview shop teacher Ryan Harmon was last year, which he spent with tech teacher Todd Goodman.

And vice versa, agrees Goodman.

Harmon teaches metalwork and welding, but he had never before worked alongside a teacher with Goodman’s tech know-how, including computer animation and coding.

The blend of high tech with trades in a single course was new to the district.

“In the real world, they work together all the time,” said Goodman.

From a course design standpoint, the two Westview teachers could whip their weight in Wildcats.

Their kids had to solve numerous problems in building the saber toothed tiger skeleton.

They were off to the new computer lab at the school to design it, using Adobe Illustrator, built a model, then did the math to scale it up.

“We blew it up as large as we could,” said Harmon.

The “bones” were cut using a CNC laser. The backbone was nine feet long, and the kids had to “invent” their own hot wire bandsaw to cut that piece.

The students soon found that the epoxy glue they wanted to use was melting their Styrofoam bones, and learned a little chemistry along the way.

To read the full story, click here.

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