Thursday, March 31, 2016


Yesterday I went to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts to observe my students in their arts classes. Blacksmithing is of particular interest, and some of my students are working on interesting projects. One is making a hand axe with layers of steel forge welded.

Students and staff were trying to use a power hack saw to cut steel. I asked, was that metal quenched? It was obvious to me as I watched the saw's teeth skate on the steel that it was hardened, as that's one common test of material hardness. The instructor, having a background in working finer metals than steel, had forgotten his basics. Steel is not at all like copper, silver and gold.

It reminded me that all kids should have the kind of understanding of material properties that engagement in crafts can supply. We use products each day that are based on metallurgical research and material expertise. My students' work in the blacksmith studio at ESSA may make them even smarter about wood and about tools. When I asked my student later whether letting his piece of iron cool slowly had any effect on his ability to cut it with the saw, he said, "it cut like butter."

Today in the woodshop at the Clear Spring School I'll have only my lower elementary school students. Today is also the day that final portions of my book Tiny Boxes will be turned over to production if we get one last chapter edited and complete.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.

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