Automotive trades instructors Kevin Larison and Kelly Rue showed students how an ignition system works on a typical car, and related that to the small engines students were working on in class. They also introduced them to scan tools for diagnosing problems like misfires.
“The virtual reality paint booth was fantastic —my kids were still talking about it after lunch,” Wiethoff said.
Ridgewater’s meat-cutting instructor Sophia Thommes spoke with the food science students, sharing details about that new program and the career possibilities.
Other ag topics and activities during Teacher Takeover included college student stories of how internships connect learning to future careers, the importance of marketing ag commodities, alternator disassembly, and practices to help people be good stewards of land and soil.
“The great part of this day is that when students explore different activities, they can connect those experiences with careers to further explore,” said Tammy Howe, Ridgewater agriculture coordinator. “There are so many great jobs.”
“Having the ability to work with the students directly was important,” said Ridgewater welding instructor John Travis. The visit helped him realize the daily challenge some high school teachers have in trying to fit in so much content into 50-60-minute classes when that time also includes set up and take down. “We invited the teachers to come to Ridgewater so we can continue to build this relationship.”
A Marshall training connection
Marshall High School instructor Michael Braithwaite recently received a Launch Your Future Today (LYFT) grant to purchase two automotive trainers — one for steering and suspension activities and one for brakes. The problem was incorporating them into classes.
“Through our partnership with the Minnesota State Transportation Centers of Excellence, Steve Hoemberg made us aware of the trainers and that Michael could use some help learning how to run the trainers effectively with his students,” Birkland said.
A few discussions later, Braithwaite came to Ridgewater in December to learn from faculty member Jon Friton and brought close to 50 students to learn the basics with him.
“Our automotive service technology faculty quickly offered to help when approached with the idea of training both students and teachers,” Birkland said.
“I learned right with the students,” Braithwaite said, “but then over lunch, Ridgewater’s faculty showed me all the extra activities that I can do with the trainers and suggested some tools our school might consider purchasing to enhance the automotive learning experience even more.”
Expand the Impact
To expand the impact of the visit, Birkland arranged for students to also explore other areas they were interested in: auto body collision repair and welding.
Students tried a transmission dynamometer, engine scan tools and diagnostics equipment, a robotic welder, a welding simulator and a virtual reality paint system.
“It was really good for us all,” Braithwaite said.
As a current agriculture education teacher, he is excited to use the trainers and the new skills in his automotive classes now, but also when his high school opens a new career and technical education (CTE) center next year where he will teach the advanced automotives and advanced welding classes.