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Engineers in training at Colfax High

Weimar Hills Eighth-graders build catapults
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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Teachers and administrators hope a recent visit to Colfax High School will catapult Weimar Hills Elementary School students into technical careers. On May 15, the eighth-graders were introduced to design, engineering and manufacturing concepts at the Tech-Explorer event in the classroom of Jonathan Schwartz, Colfax High math and pre-engineering teacher. Students used lathes, mills and other power and hand tools to build and assemble catapults. The event was made possible through a Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Collaborative Grant from Sierra College. The program not only introduces students to Colfax High, it also aims to make them aware of opportunities in high-paid local careers and education paths at Sierra College in mechatronics, engineering, welding, energy technology and drafting and engineering support Schwartz said the Weimar Hills students first worked on their math skills using the fraction contraption, a game Schwartz developed as a tool for learning math. Last week, the 60-plus students spent the day in Schwartz?s classroom building catapults out of aluminum and wood. ?They used all sorts of shop tools from a mill to a metal lathe, they got a taste of the high school ? and they got an introduction into pre-engineering,? Schwartz said. Some students were able to test their devices at the high school, but others took them back to Weimar Hills, where they applied math to calculate the trajectory of the rubber out of the catapults, which were each about 10 inches high and 10 inches long. Schwartz has been teaching at Colfax High for 17 years but still gets excited watching kids learn. ?It?s amazing how much they could get done in only a few hours,? Schwartz said. ?I can?t wait to do it again.? He?s also thankful for the support from Sierra College. ?That helps fund the whole thing. It was a great day,? he said. Teachers Steve Schaumleffel and Maureen Wilson accompanied their Weimar Hills students to Colfax High. ?The trip was a good way to introduce the kids to the tech education and pre-engineering program at Colfax and how applied math will help them if they choose that sort of a career,? Wilson said. Student Alyssa Delong said she might be interested in a career in engineering, but is not sure yet. She was one of the students ? and the first girl to finish ? who tested a catapult at Colfax High. ?We tried it and it worked fine,? she said.