Teachers Build An Electric Guitar With Goal To Pass On The Skills To STEM Students

Published 12 years ago on July 3, 2012

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Learning to build an electric guitar last week, teachers fromlocal schools and other parts of the country worked on developingskills to get their students more interested in science,technology, engineering and math.

In the class at Ventura College, the teachers spent about40 hours shaping, sanding and soldering to learn to make theguitars.

By teaching educators the skills, program organizers hope tohave a big effect on students, said Scot Rabe, Ventura Collegeprofessor of industrial design and manufacturing.

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"We're trying to expand high school students' interest to getthem excited about technical careers," Rabe said. "We're kind oftricking them by using an electric guitar."

The program was funded by the National Science Foundation, anindependent federal agency. The money paid for the materials neededfor high school and continuing education teachers to learn how tomake a solid-body electric guitar.

The faculty development grant and the program are designed togive educators the expertise to teach their students by having themthe teachers learn the skills themselves.

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"It's a lot of fun, but the big picture is to get kidsinterested in math and science," said Doug Hunt, workshopinstructor and an engineering and technology instructor at SouthWells High School in Indiana.

Four workshops were held annually for about three years acrossthe United States. Ventura College hosted two workshops thissummer, each a week long.

Three Camarillo High School teachers took part in last week'sworkshop. They are working to incorporate the guitar-making lessoninto a program for their students to get audio engineeringaccreditation.

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The program, which has yet to be implemented, would link physicsand wood shop academic pathways to get students from each sideinterested in the other. The guitar project would be part of afinal course for the students to earn graduation ceremonial cords,honors recognition and a handmade guitar.

"We want them to want to do this, and doing this kind of programwill do that," said Chip Mills, Camarillo High industrialtechnology teacher.

The teachers began the workshop with a kit with the guitarparts. Then they made their own electric guitars. They had to shapethe wood body and wire the pickups correctly. They tested theirguitars with an amplifier.

They painted and sanded and put the remaining parts together,such as attaching the body to the neck and attaching the frets andstrings.

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Those who played the guitar had a jam session on the last day ofclass to celebrate their completions.

"I think this is one thing high school students would rememberfor the rest of their lives," said Tom Post, woodworking anddrafting instructor at Merced High School. "It touches a lot ofpeople in a positive way."

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