Science and music connections are being explored by some teachers as they learn how guitar building lessons show STEM principles in action.
In Florida, a weeklong National STEM Guitar Project sponsored by the National Science Foundation through a grant, was held at Hillsborough Community College-Brandon and Erwin Technical School.
14 middle, high, and post secondary school teachers from the southeast learned from Institute faculty members Tom Singer, Mark French, and Steve Brown about grabbing students’ attention through putting science, technology, engineering and math principles into a tangible practice.
“All students ask, ‘When am I ever going to use this stuff?’” said Freedom High School math teacher Tim Nolan. “We need real- world examples to tie in with lessons.” He hopes to offer guitar- building as an elective.
Marilyn Barger, executive director of the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) at Hillsborough Community College-Brandon, brought the guitar project to Florida after discovering how empowering it was to create her own instrument last year in Arizona.
“This is the first time this program has been offered in the Southeast,” she said.
Betty Jo Moore and David Delade, science teachers at Wiley Magnet Middle School in Winston-Salem, N.C., hope to co-teach a guitar-building class.
Moore said, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. It blows my mind that I did this in a week.”
The Guitar Project encourages participation from teachers of all disciplines, who often partner with each other. Technology and engineering teachers share expertise about woodworking, power tools, CAD designs, CNC cutouts and electronics with math teachers who explain measurements and the algebraic and trigonometric functions of sound waves relating to fret spacing.
Science teachers describe the physics of tone-woods and electronics, and chemical properties of finishes and glues, while art and music teachers accentuate aesthetics and tone.