When building trades/technology teacher Trevor Maiseroulle moved to Parsons High School full time, rather than splitting his time with Parsons Middle School, the addition of a year-long class was discussed.
Maiseroulle proposed adding a mass production class this year, as it falls within the state-required curriculum pathway.
“I had attended our CTE (career and technical education) conference in Manhattan in February and Fort Hays had presented on one of their mass production classes they teach, and they gave us the idea we could do this with high school students — mass produce a product whatever it may be, Maiseroulle said.
“I took a class similar to this at Pitt State when I was going to school, so I kind of pulled from that curriculum what I could.”
He decided he wanted his students to mass produce at least one product per semester, and he would try to make it as close to reality as he could.
“I make it just like they are going to go into a regular manufacturing industry. They have to apply for jobs, interview for those jobs, and some of them may not have gotten the jobs they wanted because the interview didn’t go as hot as they wanted it to,” he said. “But that is the reality of life.”
For example, some students are in marketing, promoting the products. Some are manufacturing engineers who have to design all the jigs and fixtures to put the pieces together. Then there are the laborers who are trying to get all the pieces made.
Given the first semester ends around Christmas, Maiseroulle thought students could mass produce a product that the class could then donate to Toys For Tots. He told the students whatever they mass produced had to be a toy. Students decided they wanted to make a toy car. They set their goal at 100 cars.
Usually, the hardest and most time-consuming part is designing the product. Rather than having a separate design team, Maiseroulle had each of the students design a car and then had them take it around to teachers for a customer survey.
“Then they gauged which one the teachers liked the most,” Maiseroulle said. Marion Ryan’s design was chosen.
From there, Maiseroulle said, essentially it is up to the students to run the show, coming to him only when they have questions.
The chosen design consists of three main body pieces, rather than one, as people often see with a wooden toy. Sophomore Lucas Fugate said on the first prototypes, the students used screws for the wheels and axles but then altered the design to eliminate the screws out of concern for the product being given to small children.
“Part of the whole process is making a prototype and then making decisions based off of stipulations you have to think about,” Maiseroulle said. “So screws are probably not the most kid-friendly item. So I told them they probably need to look at dowel rods.”
After coming up with a solid prototype, the students moved forward with production. As they approach the end, Maiseroulle added a twist.
“What we are doing is we are setting up an assembly line the last week of school, and whether it be parents or teachers, we are going to get adults to come in and they are going to run the assembly line with the students as the bosses,” Maiseroulle said. “It kind of gets everyone involved, and they get to see the work the kids did because when you realize they’ve got 100 cars they are going to try to make, there’s 400 wheels they have to make. There’s so many other parts that go into it. The amount of work the students put in most people don’t realize. And students don’t realize it, and once they get into it, I would hope they will have a little more appreciation for the products they do have.”
Sophomore Landan Swafford is excited about the project and who it benefits.
“I think this donation will really help our community and get us out there in the community,” Swafford said.
Concerning the new class, Fugate said he really likes it.
“I think it is a great way to get associated with the way things work in the workforce. … I think it is really good to prepare students,” Fugate said. “It teaches students a lot about how the things that we use every day are made … all about the processes.”
There is a lot more that goes into manufacturing a product than what the students thought, and a lot of it is more difficult than what they thought.
In the second semester, students will create a new product and run it through production. The difference in the class in the second semester is students will also get to learn about selling the product produced.
“It’s going to be a lot to do, but I think it is totally achievable,” Swafford said.
“The money and profit we get from those items we’re going to put back into our TSA fund and SkillsUSA fund, so these guys can pay to go to their competitions at state,” Maiseroulle said. “Hopefully it will help pay for it.”
With any new class, instructors run into hiccups with the curriculum, so there will likely be a few changes. Overall, Maiseroulle said, it is working out fairly well. Students are learning a lot when it comes to producing flow charts, jigs and fixtures and are learning about project deadlines, being more organized with their time and not procrastinating. Counting up parts on Monday, they learned they still have much to do before Wednesday’s deadline.
All of the situations students confront are opportunities for knowledge to be gained and lessons to be learned.
More than anything, Maiseroulle said, “I’m hoping they have fun with it. We have a couple who are already saying, ‘Hey, let’s do this again next year,’ and I am hoping to make the Toys For Tots donation an annual thing. I’m going to keep one back every year and we’re going to put them on display so we can show the whole continuation of it.”