Monday, March 9, 2015

Tinker Shop Kickoff

Bvvvvv! Zippppp! Wam! Wam! Wam!

A torque wrench tightens lugnuts on newly rotated tires. A saw rips through a 2x4 (which the students found out was not actually two inches by four inches). The students take turns pounding nails efficiently with their new and improved technique. These are the sounds as Tinker Shop 2015 opens. The students are much better at making these sounds with their new skills than the blogger is at attempting to type them.

Day 1 started with the group of 17 being broken into three groups. One group started with automotive, one with forestry and outside activities, and the third group spent the day in the woodshop.

The automotive group started their day with learning about safety in the garage. There was a description of different tools used on different parts of the cars led by Steve, the head of the garage at New Hampton. Then the group got down to business. They started by jacking up one of the campus work trucks, and needless to say, the students were jacked-up. After elevating the car with the main jack, they placed two additional jacks underneath the jacked up side for extra safety. When placing these jacks the students made sure to only have their arms under the car and not their head.

As the wheels were in the air, things got rolling. The students took off, put back on, and rotated the tires of two trucks utilizing the torque wrench, ratchets, and jacks. They then learned the importance of the car manual which displays exactly what kinds and amounts of fluids that need to be replaced. After replacing and refilling essential liquids, the students learned to check the lights and fuse boxes.

Marco S., one of the students in the automotive group said, "I now feel comfortable in changing my cars tires as well as its oil!"

One of the other groups was based in the woodshop. This group was headed by Dana and Dave.

Maurice F. described the day: "It was a group of six guys, and before we started working, we did some test runs with all the tools just to get a feel for them. Then we went to work. Our job was to replace some of the windows in the maintenance shed. We put up two windows and did a frame of wood for one of those. We cleaned up the wood shavings and that was the end of the day."

While the day may sound simple, the process was complex. The students in this group cut trim to angles and worked as a well oiled machine. At the end of the day they knew Dana and Dave's backgrounds to go with their multitude of knowledge on the tools of the woodshop. They now know the basics of an array of complex tools. The students measured, cut, nailed, trimmed, planed, and sanded all in the course of a day. The excitement and pride was obvious after their finished work. What had seemed like a daunting task was transformed into a sense of accomplishment.

Guthrie L., a member of this group, was especially excited to operate the nail gun. Louis R. was "pumped to get a little dirty." Neil C. was intrigued that Dave, one of the leaders, was a carpenter after he worked for NAPA and reflected on people's unique paths to New Hampton.

The third group was outside almost the entire day. They started outside learning the safety practice of the tools and machines they would soon operate. By mid-morning the group had gone from nervous novices to proficient operators of many tools. These included weed whackers, power brooms, pruners, and motorized pole saws.

Then came the heavy-duty equipment. The group watched a tree get cut down with the chainsaw, learned to split wood with the wood splitting machine, and how to start small engines. The second half of the day was dedicated to operating machinery, including a snow removal machine, a small tractor, and even the New Hampton back-hoe. At one point there were three student driven machines that were effectively working together to aid in snow removal. Two tractors dumped snow on the pavement and the plow pushed it away. The group went from fearing the machines to becoming one themselves.

Day one is in the books and the students are excited to switch gears tomorrow.

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