Dennis Scott was a wood shop teacher in Florida when he started seeing funding moving away from his chosen field.
(Remember wood shop? You probably created a particularly lopsided birdhouse or, if you went to my middle school, reveled in the stories your teacher told you about cutting off more limbs than he actually had.)
Instead of giving up, Dennis switched his focus to Technology Education, where he developed a whole new way to teach hands-on learning in the early 1990s. Instead of creating sloppy items out of wood that would eventually be forgotten on attic shelves all across America, Dennis’ students learned about architecture, robotics, engineering, video production, electronics, and computer-aided design.
And this was way before STEM was a buzzword.
These days, Dennis has teamed up with another former teacher, Baila Scott, to create Hands4Building, an engineering curriculum for kindergarten through middle school students. H4B comes in packages, and each package includes materials, blueprints, tools and access to to training videos about each topic. Students are able to use natural materials to complete a project, building and learning as they go.
Here’s what they offer:
For the smallest students, H4B offers the Primary Package. Five to eight year olds can read blueprints and use real tools to build colonial-style farm buildings.
As the kids get a little older, check out the Simple Machine Project, which helps elementary school aged kids learn basic engineering by building – you guessed it! – a simple machine. They can explore using real tools and natural materials and, ultimately, create a machine that actually works.
At the top level, students can learn about how houses are put together with the Architecture Package. Older elementary school and middle school kids will learn about house framing, roof trusses, and floor plans. They’ll even get to create their own “houses,” which will undoubtedly be better than any birdhouse you ever brought home from school.
As our world becomes increasingly computer technology focused, the importance of hands-on learning has the potential to get lost in the rush toward computer-based learning. Both are extremely valuable to young people’s education. If an educator you know is struggling with how to get more hands-on stuff into the classroom, why not recommend Hands4Building?
Dennis and Baila’s years of experience in the classroom combined with the great online presentation of Hands4Building speak well to the quality of their product. And, if nothing else, you definitely won’t end up with any lopsided birdhouses.