Eric Andracke is a High School Teacher at Mahomet-Seymour High School in Mahomet, Illinois. He’s currently in his eighth year of teaching at Mahomet-Seymour, twelfth year as an educator. Eric teaches classes in Construction, Manufacturing, and 3D Animation. He is a graduate of Illinois State University, with degrees in Technology Education and STEM Education. Simon Anderson, currently in his 3rd year at Mahomet-Seymour, teaches Introduction to Technology and Engineering Design.
So what’s this about STEM and football? Mr. Andracke wanted to share his school’s growing commitment to STEM education with the larger community — so a football game was a natural venue for it because the crowds were already there. He explained, “We took our new ShopBot Buddy out to the game to show off what it can do. We took several of the projects out there and had a little show and tell. It’s good for people in the community to see what is taking place inside of our classrooms and that was our main goal. The football plaque idea which I developed is a class project in my other manufacturing course. The students help design, market, and sell a useful product. We chose the football plaque idea this fall and showed it off at the game as well.”
In a recent interview via email, Eric talked about his experiences integrating ShopBot Tools into his teaching. Eric explained, “I have known about ShopBot Tools for several years. The department has tried to purchase one in the past but never been able to fully secure the funds. Last fall we were able to secure a grant to purchase a large machine. We were able to purchase a 4’x8′ Alpha with spindle with our grant funds. The funds also allowed us to travel to ShopBot’s headquarters in North Carolina for the training.”
As part of their curriculum, students recently worked to build a patio chair, the files for which are found on the 100kSchools.org website.
The students made some colorful modifications to the chair in order to personalize it for their High School…
SECURING THE FUNDS
Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Andracke’s grant application that helped secure the funds for the large ShopBot Tool:
“Our objective at Mahomet-Seymour High School is to develop, teach, and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education. Within the industrial technology program, we currently focus on problem solving, engineering design, and technology education. However, we are looking to expand our program to involve and inspire students through STEM education. The integration of the four major STEM aspects of knowledge can help prepare our students for both college and career. Our expanded curriculum also contributes to the national agenda of improving the abilities of America’s youth in science and math.
We plan to use digital fabrication (the continuum from digital design through digital production) as an avenue to explore STEM education at the high school level. To accomplish digital fabrication, we would like to purchase a computer numeric controlled mill called a ShopBot. With the help of this equipment, STEM education will succeed at Mahomet-Seymour High School. In most educational settings, science and math are taught independently from each other. However, STEM bridges that gap with hands-on activities, collaboration, and directive lessons. Our lessons will contain multiple learning objects that address state, national and common core learning standards. Students are also gaining a better understanding of the material since they are able to apply the knowledge to real-life activities.
An example STEM lesson is developed from the process of building a guitar. This lesson can focus on every aspect of STEM. Educational content covers mathematical calculations, science principles and equations, design, part engineering, and digital fabrication. This activity will generate students’ interest in areas of education with which they may not be familiar, furthering the development of STEM education. Engaging students into the content is often the first step into the learning process.”
If you’d like tips for writing your grant applications, you’ll find useful points at the 100kSchools.org resource section. The people at ShopBot Tools also make themselves available to review your grant application and make suggestions to help you boost your case.
BRINGING THE BUDDY ONBOARD
While he waited for the larger machine to arrive, Mr. Andracke became aware of the Autodesk 123D/ ShopBot promotion, Digital Fab Tools for Schools, that ran in early 2013. He applied funds from this promotion to purchase the Shopbot Buddy that had its special debut at the football game. Mr. Andracke said that his students “very quickly started making smaller parts and 3D signs. The students fell in love with the technology and abilities of the machine. Students constantly talk about what they want to make on the machines.”
We asked Mr. Andracke what was the experience like working with ShopBot. He answered, “Everyone is so easy to work with. From sales questions to technical support, they have been there to help. The reason we bought the Buddy was because of the Autodesk promotion, without that assistance we probably would not have been able to get that purchased. I had worked with some metal CNC tools before but no wood-type CNC tools. Our construction/manufacturing lab is home to our larger 4’x8′ machine and the Buddy is in another classroom that my department teacher Simon Anderson uses with his intro to technology students.”
We asked what projects the students were currently working on. “In my manufacturing class the students make an individual woodworking project. I have been working with kids over the last week to develop their projects in Aspire. Yesterday we cut out all of the parts for a student’s entertainment cabinet out of 3/4″ Oak ply. Our other big project right now is to get a guitar designed and built. We have been doing a ton of research on styles and electronics needed. We hope to get one of those done pretty soon, we have the part files ready to go.”
Finally we asked Mr. Andracke about his experience at the training sessions held at ShopBot:
“The training was very informative. I loved the fact that we could see where the machines are made and some of the inner workings of the company. I attended the training with the other tech teacher Simon. We both got a ton out of the training. There was a broad range of skill levels, but TJ did an amazing job with the content and delivery of material. Each day seemed to fly by, everyone was super friendly and easy to talk to. One suggestion I had was to offer an additional day for advanced ShopBot skills. More technical stuff related to cutting feeds/speeds, creating 3d with Aspire. TJ has made some great training videos which I have watched but we can always learn more!”
Learn more about ShopBot’s training sessions, in person and online, here.
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