South Central 8th graders take a turn at engineering

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 11:02 PM

Eighth-grade students at South Central School took a turn at engineering this week, building miniature catapults from a blueprint for a hands-on lesson in work that a technical career could lead them to.

With help from the Northeast State Community College Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, volunteer engineers from Eastman Chemical Co., and a couple metalworking business owners from just down the road, about two dozen students did the math, tooled the metal, assembled their weapons and, much to their schoolmates delight, test fired them at their teachers.

Eighth-grade teacher Ginger McAmis, who selected the popular project in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education class she took at Northeast State a few years ago, also appreciated the students’ work.

“We’re a small school, less than 300 students. But these are sweetest kids and they want to learn,” McAmis said.

“These kids are really smart,” said Jeff Bowman, co-owner of Superior Metal Products in Chuckey, who came over with his partner, Danny Mathes, to lend a hand in the project.

“I was so impressed with RCAM when I saw what they were doing with the equipment they had brought out and set up for the kids,” Bowman said. And he was impressed by the kids and how they were converting the fractions to decimals and decimals to fractions from the drawings.

“I think they should do more of this. Not everyone can program a computer. Somebody has got to build stuff,” Bowman said.

Thirteen-year-old Logan Morrow may just be that someone. Morrow said he has already registered for the Medieval Weapons metal working class for his first year of high school to make more catapults and medieval weapons. And a few years after that, Morrow’s plan is to follow up with aviation mechanics training in the Air Force.

Wednesday’s hands-on lessons on the RCAM lathe, mill and drill presses were just a beginning.

“What we hope to show them is there is a lot more they can do ... if they can get out there and get their hands on some tools,” Keith Bowery, with the RCAM student outreach project, said.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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