In an impressive use of STEM knowledge, students built a school pavilion with design and math skills. With pegs, posts, and people power they wooden pavilion was buit by Thetford Academy’s timber framing class near the school soccer fields.
Most of the white pine frame the class had spent months designing and building was finally raised on a recent Tuesday. Students coached teacher Chris Schmidt and paraprofessional Whit Van-Meter as they used a hand winch to hoist a roof truss, a triangular section of the frame that includes rafters.
“Mr. Schmidt, you’ve got to go a little bit faster,” said Joshua Paton, one of two boys using guide ropes to help align the bottom of the rafters with the top of the posts. “There you go.”
“Tell me when it’s level,” said Schmidt, TA’s d esign technology instructor.
“It’s level!” came the call from the students, who sported the unofficial uniform for the day: hard hats, T-shirts and work pants.
With a little guiding, the second of three king post trusses, named for the center post, came to rest on the posts beneath it, forming a “bent,” or cross-section of the building. It was locked in place with wooden pegs and a classic woodworking joint — a mortise and tenon. The mortises, or holes, cut into the bottoms of the rafters fit onto the tenons, the wooden tabs protruding from the tops of the posts. The class and a small crowd that had gathered to watch broke into applause.
The course, one of 10 new, mostly hands-on classes that started at the school this year , follows Thetford Academy’s tradition of hands-on experiential learning, said William Bugg, head of school.
Students “learn abstract things in the classroom and immediately apply (them) to what they are doing, ” said Bugg, who helped raise the frame. “There’s a lot of math in this class.”
The semester-long course takes a timber framing project from beginning to end.
Using a mixture of old and new tools, students practice the ancient building technique that has recently come back into vogue. In addition to hammers, chisels and handsaws, they also use power tools and current technology — Google SketchUp to design the pavilion and digital photography to record their work, all the while blogging about the process.