WHS shop teacher encourages hands-on learning

by Emily Armentrout

Shaun Eiler has been teaching Wabash High School’s shop programs for the past seven years. He is a Northfield High School graduate, who attended Ball State University, always knowing he wanted to be a teacher.

“My grandfather was principal at Roann High School. Growing up, I always had people telling me stories about how he impacted their lives. I wanted to impact lives like that. I have always liked serving people,” Eiler told The Paper.

Math and English weren’t his strongest subjects in school, but he always enjoyed building things. Two teachers who influenced his life were his  Ag teacher, Jeff Smith, and former shop teacher at Northfield, Doug Koch. “Smitty showed even when you’re learning something you can have a great time doing it. So I’ve tried to make these shop classes something the kids enjoy so they get excited about taking shop,” said Eiler.

Eiler believes in teaching the students basic construction skills that they can use in the future.

Scheduling makes it difficult to cover every construction topic available, but Eiler focuses  on teaching students how to build doors and window frames, do basic electrical wiring, and make sound structures.

“Not all of these students will go into a shop field,” Eiler said. “Most of these students will go on to college. They all have one thing in common though; they will be homeowners. If I can teach them basic skills so they don’t need to call a professional whenever something goes wrong, it’ll save them money down the road.”

Shop classes, like the music and art departments, are some of the first areas to feel the repercussions of a slouching economy.

“With schools cutting shop programs, a lot of people aren’t going to have any choice but to call in professionals because they won’t have had the opportunity to learn these skills themselves,” added Eiler.

Mr. Eiler’s classes have been working on wooden toolboxes with bottom drawers, wooden drinking cups, a catapult, and a small house that students made by scaling a milk carton.

As it is difficult to build a house at school, students were given the task of taking a smaller object with poor structure, scaling it and building it to be structurally sound. The students design their own truss system to withstand forces of nature like compression, tension, sheering, bending and fatigue. The two sides have their original truss design and the front and the back are basic door and window frames. Eiler recently had two students decide to take these projects home, so he taught them how to side their structures like a house and put shingles on the roof. Their projects became doghouses.

In an effort to keep their cost down, shop department reuses the wood when students decide they do not want to keep their large building projects like the milk carton project.

Eiler teaches students from 7th grade to seniors. As 7th graders, they are introduced to woodshop and the machines. They start out making CO2 cars, which is the most basic project they will have. “The CO2 cars get them comfortable with the machines. They use the band saw, sander and the drill press.” In the 8th grade, their big project is the clock, where they once again use the band saw, sander and drill press but are also introduced to the plainer and the table saw.

Wabash High School recently purchased a new table saw with a safety feature that stops and drops the blade in four thousandths of a second if the students come in contact with the blade. “This feature makes it very difficult to cut yourself on this table saw,” said Eiler.

As the students progress in the shop program, they start working on more intricate projects. Eiler told The Paper that the most intricate project he’s seen was a roll top breadbox a student made. “It was so neat because I didn’t know how a roll top worked,” said Eiler.

Wabash High School only offers one class where shop students can create anything they want. Design Processes is an advanced wood class but is only offered when scheduling and interest allows. The school also offers Metal I and Metals II along with their woodworking classes.

Posted on 2013 Dec 17