Hands on application of skills and principles is the best way for any of us to learn and retain that learning. Grantsville High School’s agriculture mechanics students have been learning basic skills including welding, electrical wiring, painting, designing and fabricating for the last couple of years in Grant Peterson’s classes. This year, the students in his advanced class were grouped into three person teams, given some basic guidelines, and then proceeded to build some trailers as group projects.
The ag. mechanics courses at GHS are designed to teach skills that students can use as they leave high school and enter the job market or pursue further education. Making small projects and working independently is OK, but Peterson wanted students to experience the benefits and challenges of working as a team to accomplish a specific project.
Teams were assigned with group leaders responsible to coordinate and organize the work efforts of their team members.
“I think students learned some great things about working together and utilizing each member of the team and capitalizing on the individual talents of team members,” Peterson said. “Occasionally, teammates had to work through disagreements and differences of opinion. Each day in real life circumstances, we encounter people with different views and perspectives. This project gave students the opportunity to work though some of the challenges common to us all as we go throughout life.”
As with any product, determining costs, trying to be as efficient as possible, and providing products that are in demand by potential customers is vital to the success of every business. Students learned and reinforced numerous math skills as they built their trailers and calculated the cost of the products used in the fabrication of the projects.
“We hear all the time about how students are underprepared in math and science competencies,” Peterson said. “This practical project required students to calculate percentages, use geometry in laying out the trailers, estimate quantities of bulk materials and figure square footage. They are also utilizing English skills as they prepare ads for the sale of their trailers. Some of the kids have listed them on KSL’s classifieds. Some have been sold to parents or neighbors, and some of the trailers are still available for sale.”
If you might be interested in one of the trailers, contact Peterson at 884-4500, ext. 3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with many activities, a little competition offered additional incentives for students to work hard. Praxair in Salt Lake City donated an electronic welding helmet and Walmart Distribution Center and Les Schwab Tires donated funds to help purchase some tool sets that were given to the winning teams. Winning teams were selected by two professional welders who judged the trailers according to applicable industry standards. Winning team members included Kevin Andreasen, Max Cook and Quinton Smith, and Austin Delaney, Tyler Peterson and Ty Titmus. Dalton Broadhead won the auto darkening welding helmet due to his willingness to help everyone else after his trailer was completed. Angie Gillette, vice principal at GHS, joined in to help present the awards.
As the year progresses, these students will be working on advanced welding skills and preparing for weld certification tests this spring. We hope to have several students who will be qualified in multiple welding positions using both SMAW (arc welding) and GMAW (MIG welding) processes. According to the American Welding Society and government labor statistics, over the next 10 years there will be a shortage of more than 200,000 qualified welding professionals in the United States. Many of these jobs are very good paying jobs that allow an individual to support a family and live a very comfortable lifestyle. Sometimes in political and educational circles, students are told they have to get a traditional college degree and become a doctor, lawyer, medical professional or engineer in order to have a comfortable life. However, there are many good jobs in the skilled trades that will provide well for those who are willing to work hard and develop good customer relation and communication skills in addition to the technical skills necessary to work in industrial trades.
Students at GHS who are interested in these specific trades should enroll in Ag. Mechanics 1 as freshmen where the basics of welding and other mechanics concepts including safety, hand tool use, power tools, material identification, and the basics of CNC Plasma design are taught. As sophomores, they should enroll in Ag. Mechanics 2 where more advanced welding skills in various processes are taught and reinforced. These students also learn more about CNC plasma design principles, cost analysis of projects, electrical wiring, engine operation, repair and maintenance of equipment, and construction with concrete. Juniors should enroll in Welding Technology where we concentrate heavily on multiple welding processes and prepare for certifications. Students can also earn concurrent college credit with Snow College as juniors and seniors. In Welding Technology, students spend a big part of their time designing and building projects for themselves or for community members. Seniors should enroll in Advanced Ag. Mechanics, which is entirely focused on building projects for individual student use. They can also earn more concurrent enrollment credit in this class.
One unique thing offered at GHS is a non-traditional Ag. Mechanics 1 course, which is designed to meet the needs of girls who are interested in metal working and learning the basics of how engines work, how to change tires, check oil, perform maintenance checks and preventive maintenance on vehicles, and small gasoline engines. We spend a lot of time focusing on more artistic metal work in this class due primarily to the interest of the girls involved. Girls should know there are many excellent opportunities for women in the welding industry and in other skilled trade areas. All students in the ag. mechanics program have the opportunity to participate in the Future Farmers of America program at GHS. FFA is the largest youth leadership organization in the United States with more than 500,000 members nationally and approximately 6,000 members in Utah. For more information about the program at GHS, please contact Peterson.