Summer school has gone high-tech in Jamestown.
Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students were huddled around workstations Friday morning in a classroom at Jamestown Elementary School, soldering wires as part of a project to build their own, fully-functioning electric guitars and amplifiers.
“This covers all of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) without having to get a pencil and paper out,” said Jamestown Elementary summer-school teacher Justine Jordet.
The kits for the guitars were made by the Modesto-based Downtown Thinktank and purchased for the school’s 15-day summer school program with the help of private donations and after-school funding.
Jordet said the students started the course this week learning how to shape the wooden necks of the guitars using files and rasps.
“They get life skills because they learn how to solder, they learn electrical components and how electricity is conducted to the different part, and woodworking,” Jordet said.
The course is free of charge to students enrolled at Jamestown Elementary. At the end, they will get to take home their completed handmade electric guitars and amps.
Jordet said attendance during the summer-school program is typically a bit spotty, but all of the students in her class this year have returned each day. Some told her they enjoy it more than the field trips they usually take as part of the program.
“We’re learning a lot with them,” Jordet said. “This is the first time we’ve put something like this together.”
Daniel Harrison, director of the after-school and summer school programs at Jamestown Elementary, said the idea for the exercise was introduced to them at a meeting of a consortium that oversees after-school programs in five counties.
Harrison said it goes along with STEM-related learning activities being promoted across the country.
“This involves electricity, engineering, design and fabrication,” Harrison said. “Music is it’s own mathematical language, too.”
The school has also been doing more during the regular school year to promote the concepts that experts say are essential for developing a skilled workforce in the 21st-century economy.
Last month, Jamestown Elementary students participated in the school’s first robotics challenge held at the Innovation Lab in Sonora.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were working on laptops in another classroom on the campus Friday morning to design objects that will later be run through a 3D printer. The program, TinkerCAD, allows the students to make shapes on a 3D plane using electronic building blocks.
“There are a lot of measures they don’t realize they’re doing and they’re working with a lot of shapes,” said teacher Jessica Fulton.
Fulton said another thing she’s noticed about the 3D-design exercise was that kids were working together who typically don’t get along.
Many of the students were attempting to make their own “fidget spinners,” a type of toy marketed as a stress-reliever that has recently exploded in popularity with school-age children.
Sapphire Patterson, 9, who is going into fifth-grade next school year, said she was trying to make a fidget spinner at first but changed course after finding it too difficult, plus she wanted to make something her friend would enjoy.
“I decided to make a diamond cube instead of the fidget spinner because it’s for a special person who really likes diamonds,” Patterson said.
In addition to the program going on at Jamestown Elementary that runs through the end of the month, the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office will host its annual “Mad About Science” camp at Columbia College in August for third- through eighth-grade students from all county public schools.
The free, weeklong course is centered around fostering an appreciation for the study of science through hands-on activities from 8 a.m. to noon each day.