Sunday, November 23, 2014

rabbeted bottoms

I am working on gifts 5, 5b and 6.

One of the easiest ways to install a plywood bottom in a box is by using a router table and rabbeting bit to route the space for it to fit. Unfortunately, most rabbeting bits are large and while they can be adjusted to cut a small rabbet for small boxes, that requires adding a large bearing which keeps it from routing into the corners.

Amana has made a small rabbeting bit that is perfect for making small boxes. It has a bearing diameter of 3/16 in. and routes a 1/8 in. rabbet, which makes it perfect for use with the Froebel boxes I'm making for gifts, 5, 5b and 6.

In the photos above and below, you can see it in use.  When the rabbet has been cut, simply measure the inside space, cut the bottom to the same size and then round the corners.

For a single box, shaping each corner with a disk sander makes sense as it can be quickly done. In a production setting, many can be routed at the same time on the router table by standing them on edge and using a round over bit of the required radius.

Make, fix and create...



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pythagorean theorem

The image below shows the use of Freobel's gift number 5 to demonstrate the validity of the Pythagorean Theorem, one of the foundational principles of mathematics. Most students are required to memorize it as
a^2 + b^2 = c^2\!\,  but without being taught its relationship to geometry as shown above. B squared is not just a number multiplied by itself but represents a shape.

In accounting, facility in the addition, subtraction and application of numbers is important. That is one side of math. In engineering, facility with shape is important. That is the side of mathematics that we tend to ignore in school but that can be applied in wood shop.

When I was taught the Pythagorean theorem, it was presented in a purely numeric form, completely divorced from the concept so well illustrated both above and below. Squared and cubed numbers as well as their roots were left dead for me, just as they are too often left for dead in today's math.

Froebel's gift number 5 as used to represent the Pythagorean theorem is shown below.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, November 21, 2014

5, 5b and 6

I have been working on gifts 5, 5b and 6 and the chapter that includes these gifts. This photo shows the set of blocks that Froebel designed as set number 5. This was the set of blocks used by older children to understand the Pythagorean theorem.

How many children were able to understand the Pythagorean theorem through the use of these blocks, I don't know. But facility for math is not only the use and understanding of numbers. It involves "spatial sense," such as one might develop through manipulation of blocks. Choosing points along a number line is an important skill, as is judging relative proportions and scale.

Even G. Stanley Hall, recognized that learning through the hands touched the unconscious mind in ways that conscious recitation based learning could not. I repeat a quote from my blog post of two days ago:
Where work that the boy has made himself with his own hands goes, there his interest follows. His reading is stimulated; the inner eye back of the retina is opened, and that priceless though semi-conscious education, which is by hints and suggestions and which is far more rapid and indelible than anything in the memorized and examinable region of the soul, goes on by leaps and bounds. Thus skill with the fingers is harnessed to development of the cerebral neurons, as it should be, and we are working in the depths and not the shallows of the soul. - G. Stanley Hall.
Make, fix and create...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

the impulse for action and work...

"The impulse for action and work makes the child hammer and knead, scrawl and cut whatever falls into his hands. It is the office of education to come to the assistance of this natural striving which is the child's work of development." - Education by Work 1876 by Bertha Von Marenholtz-Buelow
Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, the first grade students worked on puppets and were disappointed that they were not able to finish them in a single class period. My fourth grade students wanted to make things from their own imaginations. One used sketchup to draw 3-D creepers and zombies from Minecraft. A new student wanted to make a box so that he would (like the other students) have a place for his desk items. Another wanted to make a birthday present for her mother. All could be done in woodshop, but the activity kept me too busy to take any photos of the children at their work.

This afternoon my middle school students wanted to make their own tools to use in the woods. After the first below freezing days of the winter season, the bugs die down, and the snakes are in hibernation, we open the woods surrounding the campus for play. Children join non-exclusive groups and build forts. Suitable sticks are always at a premium and serve as currency. This year, for the first time, they decided they need tools, and asked that they be able to make the tools themselves. So as some made signs and tool racks, another made a wooden mallet. More will come a week from Tuesday when we return from Thanksgiving break.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

homeschool class 2

Today I held my second home school woodworking class in a 4 week series of once a week classes. The students are working on toy trains based on a model wooden locomotive I had available as an example. Each student is working out their own ideas, building upon what was shown to them.

One student also made tops, another button toy, and s pinning Froebel cylinder and base. Another student also made an airplane.

I was out of school yesterday due to a cold, and my lower elementary school students were excited to see me back at school. I'll make up their missed class time tomorrow. I know that other teachers may also find joy in their relationship with students. To walk into a classroom of first graders and to be greeted with unbridled joy is an amazing thing.

One of the great things about this homeschool class is that it fits with the philosophy expressed by Dr. Waldemar Goetze in Leipsig, 1883.
"We must be on our guard not to confound the interest which grownup people take in these things with that of children. Experience shows that boys work with the same pleasure at objects taken from school life as they do at those for home use. The point is to avoid setting work which they cannot comprehend, and to enter the circle of their ideas. The pleasure of seeing misconceptions born of word teaching cleared up by the contemplation of real things and by personal experience, and the happiness of being able to follow instruction with more intelligent understanding, are as great as the satisfaction of making objects for daily use."
Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

in the depths not the shadows of the soul...

The following is from the Pedagogical Seminary volume IX, an article written by G. Stanley Hall,
Where work that the boy has made himself with his own hands goes, there his interest follows. His reading is stimulated; the inner eye back of the retina is opened, and that priceless though semi-conscious education, which is by hints and suggestions and which is far more rapid and indelible than anything in the memorized and examinable region of the soul, goes on by leaps and bounds. Thus skill with the fingers is harnessed to development of the cerebral neurons, as it should be, and we are working in the depths and not the shallows of the soul.
Make, fix and create...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quentin Hogg

Yesterday a friend of mine who teaches in the social sciences at the University of Arkansas mentioned the difficulty he has in interesting his students in history. It seems that with the rapid changes in technology the good old days were just prior to whatever model iPhone you have, be it 3, 4 or 5. But history can be a source of courage and inspiration, if only kids were made aware to take advantage of it. The following story is from Charles A. Bennett's History of Manual and Industrial Arts, 1870-1917.
On leaving Eton in 1863, Quentin Hogg, (1845-1903), an athletic young man of eighteen, accepted a position with a firm of tea merchants. As he went about the city, he came across many poor and homeless boys and his heart cried out in pity for them. But he was wise enough to know that, if he were to help them, he must first get acquainted with them and, to do that, he must first be one of them. So he bought a second-hand suit of clothes, such as was worn by shoeblacks, and a shoeblacking outfit. After office hours, he would “sally forth to earn a few pence by holding horses, blacking boots, or performing any odd jobs that came his way.” “He used to get home in time for breakfast, and, for some time, Sir James (his father) knew nothing of the two or three nights a week when his son supped on ‘pigs trotters’ or ‘tripe and onions’ off a barrow, and spent the night curled up in a barrel, under a tarpaulin or on a ledge in the Adelphi Arches, learning to know the boys he meant to rescue, making their life his life, their language his language, in the hopes of changing their lives.”
Hogg went on to found one of the first Polytechnic institutes based upon his experience earned as a shoeblack, part time of course as he also became wealthy in the tea trade.

In the shop  I have 120 boxes packed and ready to be shipped by UPS.

Make, fix and create...