Nine boys and one girl are taking the “Who wants to be an engineer?” class this semester. Throughout the month of October, they worked on a project to learn more about the topic by dismantling and putting back together vacuum cleaners through the foundation.
Cornerstone teacher Susan James said she contacted the foundation earlier this school year to see if they could receive one of the engineering boxes that includes a James Dyson autobiography and instructive posters to keep, a teacher curriculum, torx drivers, vacuum cleaner heads and the motor of a DC26 vacuum cleaner.
“The box is free and reserved by teachers like when you check out a library book,” she said. “The teaching curriculum is tailored to the students’ needs and reserved for a month at a time.”
“You can tell a kid all day long that a vacuum runs like this … but if they have something tangible as a tool they get it,” James said. “I have one kid who has a record now. He can disassemble it in 2 minutes and 50 seconds and the rest are not far behind.”
During the month-long lesson, students learned about the life of 65-year-old Dyson, how he got started and that he designed 5,127 prototypes before coming up with the vacuum cleaner customers use today.
“The students think outside the box, and that’s what you hope as a teacher to be able to reach them like that, where they have that tangible product that they can take apart, put back together, but then they could work it into something else,” she said.
James plans to establish a relationship so that they can borrow the box each semester for the elective.
The idea to request the engineering box came from Cornerstone parent and Dyson salesperson Windy White.
“When I first saw this, I knew it had to be something good for this school,” she said. “It tries to get students to think in a different way.”
One of the company’s mottos is, “Dyson solves problems that others tend to ignore.”
“James Dyson is a very big proponent of wrong thinking, so just because water runs down hill, doesn’t mean it can’t run uphill,” she said, adding that the company’s founder is dedicated to the future of science and engineering.
“That’s where he puts his focus and development,” White said. “He would love to see engineering become part of the regular curriculum and included in core classes.”
The foundation, which was established in 2002, is headquartered in Chicago and mostly works with schools surrounding that area.
However, they recently extended their efforts outside of Illinois and Cornerstone students are the first ones in the southeast to receive the engineering box.
Tim Endredi, 13, is one of those students and the seventh-grader from Powder Springs said he chose to take the engineering elective because he’s always wanted to be an engineer.
“I’m just a really big science person, and I’ve taken many engineering classes over the summer and it’s fascinated me, all the different things you can do with engineering,” he said, adding that the Dyson project was his favorite part of the class.
Samantha Murray, the only female in the class, said she took the class because she thought it’d be fun to learn more about engineering.
“I like taking apart the vacuums … that’s always fun. I do that a lot at home, mess with gadgets,” said the 13-year-old seventh grader from Canton.
She also said it’s “kind of weird” being the only girl in her class but not too bad.
Ryan Faddis, 13, said the hardest part of the class to him was putting the vacuums back together.
“It’s hard figuring out which part goes first and where they go,” he said.
Additionally, the seventh-grader from Cartersville said he hadn’t ever thought about being an engineer before taking this class but is starting to change his mind.
“It’s steering me towards pursuing engineering as a career … not sure which type though,” he said.