ORRVILLE, Ohio – For the past 11 years, students in the Industrial Technology Department at Orrville High School have been making Christmas a little brighter for children who otherwise do not have much to look forward to on Christmas morning.
Over the past couple of months, students in Bill Peter’s engineering and manufacturing classes have been researching, designing and constructing wooden toys to be distributed by the Marine Corp’s Toys For Tots program and Community Action of Wayne and Medina counties.
Support. “The Marines have been very supportive of this project,” Peters said.
“They have been very impressed with what the students have done.
“And since we have material donated by local businesses, we also try to keep some toys here locally as well as nationally.”
A little background. The Toys for Tots program was established in 1947 in Los Angeles and went national in 1948.
The mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute them to needy children.
The collection takes place in communities with military reserve units or through groups like the Marine Corp veterans.
Truck, jeep. This year, the students chose to manufacture a six-wheel drive military truck and jeep for their project.
When the final unit rolls off the assembly line, the students will have spent more than 1,200 hours over a 14-week period assembling more than 4,300 individual parts into 35 complete toy sets.
Each toy set includes 123 individual parts.
Evolved. This project evolved from a similar project Peters designed for a group of special needs students as part of his student teaching assignment.
With a background in construction, engineering and manufacturing, it made sense to develop a project that would teach the students basic woodworking skills.
When he assumed the Industrial Technology position at Orrville High School, Peters expanded the project to apply concepts the students learned in their other classes such as math, science, English and accounting.
Up to the students. Peters explained that the project is unique in the sense that the students decide what they are going to do and how it is going to be done.
Before the students cut the first piece of wood for the project, they spent countless hours looking at ideas before selecting the jeep and the truck as their project.
“We got together and decided what we wanted to do,” said Sarah Jarrett, operations supervisor and a veteran of the project.
“We looked up pictures on the Internet and designed ours from a picture. We decided what we wanted to do to dress it up.”
Benefits. For Jarrett, the project has several benefits.
“I want to be an architect and get into mechanical engineering,” she said.
“Working with people in class gives me the environment I am going to be in when I am out on a job.
“I am the only girl in the class, so that was weird, but I was comfortable and I enjoy the class, it is the best part of my day.”
She added that the project also taught her about problem solving and how to adjust in different atmospheres.
Work by vote. Peters added that the class voted select Jarrett as the operations supervisor.
“We do a lot of things on this project by vote,” he said.
Not only did the students use the Internet as a resource, but they also went to a couple of junkyards and Army surplus stores to look at the vehicles.
They were able to take measurements on the vehicles and use the information to create a more accurate scale model for the project.
Steps. The next step was to build a prototype of the design, which the students used to base their drawings.
They not only make a drawing to scale of the entire project, but they make a drawing to scale of each individual piece so each piece is the proper size.
The drawings were both pencil drawings and computer-generated drawings prepared by Mike Stoller, engineering forman for the project.
Stoller, who plans to continue to use his skills in computer assisted drafting and major in mechanical engineering, enjoys the toy project.
Brighten the holiday. “It is fun to do something for little kids to brighten up their holidays,” he said.
The next step was to draw the proposed project to scale so that every part is the right size.
“We make a drawing which we use to create the template so that every piece is exactly the same and we know how they will fit together,” Jarrett said.
Once the drawings have been completed, students draw up a bill of materials to determine how much wood they will need to complete the project.
Charts galore. They also draw up flow chart to determine who will handle the various aspects of the project.
“We chart everything, from the percentage of materials used to produce each part to the time involved in the project,” Peters said.
“The students also track the efficiency of each part and had a 99.26 quality percentage. They also track the inventory of each part.
“When the students come into class or when they come down to work during a free period, they punch a time clock and we do a labor analysis as part of the project.”
Labor intensity. A breakdown of the labor stages shows that engineering and production were by far the most labor-intensive portions of the project.
Students spent 310 hours of standard time and 37 hours of overtime on the engineering portion and 661 hours of standard time and 232 hours of overtime on the production stage.
According to their calculations, the students used approximately 97.18 board feet of poplar, pine or maple to make the toys, with the jeep chassis, chassis and bed using a major portion of the wood.
Donations. Peters explained that the wood is donated by couple of area businesses.
“What we use depends on what they can get us,” he said. “We could not afford to buy the materials to do this project.”
Jobs. Peters added that at the beginning of the class he is pretty involved in the project, but once the project is underway and the jobs have been assigned, he is more of a facilitator.
“The sophomore class does this project and juniors and seniors provide the leadership,” Peters said.
“This is not my project, without their leadership, this project wouldn’t succeed.”
The project is a learning experience for the students.
They not only learn about selecting and using building materials, but they also learn how to use power tools safely.
An added benefit to the project is that it teaches the students about teamwork, craftsmanship, designing and drawing.
Manual. Also as part of the project, students prepare a process manual which includes the drawings and pictures, bill of materials, labor analysis, efficiency reports and other reports related to the project as well as an evaluation of the project when it is completed.
“I think the biggest challenge for the students is to meet the deadlines and try and have everything perfect.”
Peters joked that another challenge is getting the students to part with the toys once they are done with the project.
“When we get done the students all want to keep one, but we only keep two, one that they can dress up and another one that we display in the showcase outside the classroom,” he said.
“We also enter the toys in the Ohio State Fair and the Ohio Technical Education Association Conference.
“We also submit the manual to the conference. We have gotten best of show 10 times at the state level.”