Toys for Tots in Your Technology and Engineering Program

By Berkeihiser, Mike | Technology and Engineering Teacher, December 2015 | Go to article overview

Toys for Tots in Your Technology and Engineering Program


Berkeihiser, Mike, Technology and Engineering Teacher


Most technology and engineering classes are elective, so teachers are always looking for ways to market programs, engage students, and remind administrators and school board members about the good things T&E teachers do with and for kids. The Unionville High School (PA) Technology and Engineering Department goes to great lengths to market its program and engage students. Its partnership with Toys for Tots has not only been extremely fun and rewarding for students, but has generated positive press and goodwill.

The Technology and Engineering Department partnered with Toys for Tots for nearly a decade because making toys fits so well with technology and engineering curriculum. From design to completion, this community outreach activity is a fun way for students to apply what they are learning.

DESIGN

Unionville High School Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) students have always designed wooden toys because their creation provides opportunities for engineering design and problem solving while allowing students to demonstrate what they learn in CAD classes. Wooden toys involve relatively simple shapes that students can easily draw in multiview and isometric assemblies. Alternatively, models can be made in 3-D using programs like Autodesk Inventor (Figure 1). Toy design is a great CAD or engineering activity even if one chooses not to produce the toys.

Each year, every student in Unionville's Engineering CAD class employs the engineering design process to design and draw a toy for possible production. The class then works together to determine the best design for that year's Toys for Tots toy. This year, students decided on a wooden helicopter with wheels. Other recent toys have included airplanes and mallard duck push toys with rubber flapper feet (Figure 2).

PRODUCTION

The class decided the best way to cut out the fuselages and create the holes to represent the cockpits was to use the computer numerically controlled (CNC) router (Figure 3). The students in Materials and Manufacturing classes surfaced poplar boards to 5/4" and cut them to 4' lengths so they would fit on the CNC router. Fuselages were laid out to maximize the size of material, boards were clamped to the CNC router table, and the parts were cut out. The CNC router leaves tabs so the parts do not fly out during cutting. These tabs had to be cut using a band saw (Figure 4).

Students then sanded the fuselages and rounded the edges 1/8" using the router table (Figure 5). They set up a jig to guide the drill bit while drilling the holes for the main rotors and tail rotors. Rotors were ripped on the table saw, cut to length on the miter saw using stop blocks, drilled on the drill press with an alignment fixture, and rounded on the disc sander. …

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