Whither the clocks of the Middle School Industrial Technology classes?


  1. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, is nothing sacred? I’m guessing that every Northfield family has the same number of those clocks in their homes as they had children who attended the Middle School.

    I suppose the sameness of the clocks is somewhat amusing. But I think learning to use one’s hands is worthwhile. A student might even discover that they like building stuff. Who knows what that could lead to?

    A friend of mine teaches a community ed class in which his middle school aged pupils build small radio controlled combat robots. They design them themselves with the main requirement being the robots must be under a specified weight. They build the robots with parts from his huge pile of miscellaneous parts. Then they compete against each other. He expresses his amazement at the large number of kids who literally have never built anything and have no knowledge of using any tools, even screwdrivers etc. I think many kids don’t build models or even play much with legos as their free time is taken up with moving joysticks and watching video screens.

    March 18, 2009
  2. Patrick Enders said:

    Those clocks are a lot nicer than the “Pac Man”-themed bookends that I was forced to make in Woods class. Still, I learned how to use a plane, jigsaw, drill press, rasps and god-knows-what-else while making those stupid book ends.

    But I agree with Curt: robots are much cooler. We spent last weekend watching my cousin’s high school robotics team competing in the FIRST Robotics competition in Milwaukee.

    Some archive webcasts of the events can be found here:

    The Minneapolis competition is April 2-4. Does Northfield have a team?

    March 18, 2009
  3. Curt Benson said:

    Patrick, Northfield doesn’t have a FIRST Robotics team. NHS teacher Mark Woitalla teaches a class called Battlebots (Intro to Machining). Students learn the basics of machining and build a robot or two. Mr. Woitalla added the robot building element to the class a few years ago, and doubled the number of kids who take the class, IIRC. I tip my cap to Mr. Woitalla for his creative approach.

    Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault has a FIRST Robotics team. The FIRST program costs a minimum of $6000 to participate. This includes the standard box of materials that all teams use. (IIRC, the entire materials budget for Mr. Woitalla’s NHS class was $700.00) Typically teams get corporate sponsors and do some fund raising. I think teams really need outside volunteer help, typically from people with engineering backgrounds.

    I wonder if the soon-to-open Cannon River STEM charter school has considered a FIRST Robotics program. The STEM people might want to follow Patrick’s link above to the Medtronic sponsored Minnesota event to witness for themselves what this program is all about.

    March 19, 2009
  4. Patrick Enders said:

    Battlebots… I really wish I’d taped that show back in the day.

    March 19, 2009
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Is there still an industrial arts class at the Middle School?

    It’s too bad that the house-building partnership between the Northfield and Randolph Schools ended a while back. I thought that was a terrific project — a real world purpose with intensive hands-on experience.

    March 20, 2009
  6. David Beimers said:

    Yes, there is still an IA/Wood class in 7th grade. And supposedly the clocks are still part of the curriculum.

    March 20, 2009
  7. Rob Hardy said:

    My son made a clock in eighth-grade IT class last year. You can see a picture of it on my blog. They’re such a Northfield icon that one is included in the historical display in the middle school (in the music corridor).

    It’s interesting to search the word “whither” on LocallyGrown. You have quite a few posts that begins with “whither”? But you never ask, “Whence?”

    March 20, 2009
  8. Britt Ackerman said:

    These clocks must have some sentimental value I can’t understand…I’ve been trying to throw one away for eight years now which was made by my significant other, but he won’t let me. (He’s now 34 years old.)

    Anyone older than that out there who still has one of these clocks taking up valuable storage space?

    March 20, 2009
  9. jane fenton said:

    I LOVE my Middle School IT class clocks! I have two sons who’ve gone thru the MS. though it is the same assignment, each has it’s own little personality. When I got divorced, this was the ONLY thing my ex and I each wanted (ok, also an illustrated poem by one of them as well).

    March 21, 2009
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    In yesterday’s Nfld News: Demand for shop, home ec classes dwindles.

    With more Northfield High School students enrolling in Advanced Placement courses, other elective courses, like Auto Maintenance, Chinese and Family and Consumer Science, are falling by the wayside.

    At last Monday’s board meeting, the Northfield School District made cuts in the number of Full-Time Equivalent staffing positions it will allocate to the NHS Industrial Tech and Family and Consumer Science departments. Similar cuts in the Chinese and German departments at the school were considered but rejected by the board.

    April 19, 2009
  11. Doug Oines said:

    The clocks are probably still made at the Nfld. Middle School. The Phy. Ed. Dept. probably still teaches the same old fundamental rules of various competitive games. The Math Dept. probably still teaches the same old basic concepts of Algebra. The Science Dept. probaply still teaches the same old stuff regarding Laws of Motion. The Music Dept. probably teaches the same old concepts regarding key and time signatures. It’s likely that some of the great works taught by the Language Dept. are used again year after year.

    What does NOT happen is a fair, unbiased discussion and evaluation of the entire K-12 curriculum. At the public school administrative level, who speaks for the non-college bound student?

    May 29, 2009
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Doug asked: “At the public school administrative level, who speaks for the non-college bound student?”

    It should be the school board but…

    June 1, 2009

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