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TREES TO LUMBER: A PROJECT

WALTER H. BECKMAN

Washington School

A teacher traveling during the summer may get many ideas on projects for the coming school year. In my case, a trip thru upper Wisconsin and Minnesota brought the idea of a project on “Iron Ore and Steel”' which was completed in the fall semester and one on “Trees to Lumber” which was concluded the latter part of April, 1951.

After a discussion in 7A Junior High School geography classroom at Washington School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, about vacations of the pupils as well as of the teacher, certain topics such as lumber, were discussed. “What could we, the class, do to make our study of lumber more interesting?” “Would lumber companies send us material if we wrote to them?” Probably they would if we showed evidence of desiring knowledge and presented specific questions to which we wanted answers.

QUESTIONNAIRE The 37 pupils in the 7A class were divided into groups of five or six each. Then, each group elected its own chairman and had him write down all the questions his group would like to have answered. Naturally, some groups handed in more questions than others. Two pupils were appointed to compilè questions. After duplicate questions had been discarded, 44 remained. Then, the teacher duplicated several copies of this questionnaire.

After the questions were compiled, two boys volunteered to go to the public library technical division where they obtained for the class the names and addresses of approximately 45 lumber companies to which the class could write.

The English teacher had agreed to teach the proper form to be used in writing business letters. Correct grammar, spelling, and penmanship were also emphasized. In each letter a questionnaire was enclosed. Naturally, these letters written for the purpose of receiving answers to their questionnaire greatly increased the interest of the pupils in trees and lumber.

The boys asked many questions about various phases of lumber in their industrial arts class. The industrial arts teacher volun

Mar., 1952

TREES TO LUMBER: A PROJECT

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teered to allow the 18 boys in the class to decide on a special project in wood, which they might place on exhibit some time later.

Four or five days after the letters were mailed, replies started to come and they continued coming for a month. The pupils showed unusual interest in the letters and read each to the class. Some companies referred the class to other companies for pamphlets, samples of wood, and other material which aided their study very much. Of the 38 companies to which letters were sent, 31 answered. It was agreed beforehand that all materials received became the property of the classroom for future use. Eight of the companies took time to answer each of the 44 questions, while other companies confined their answers to the questions which were in their particular line of business. One company in the South sent the class 26 pieces of molding used in building homes and other buildings. Two companies referred our questionnaire to university professors. These were Professor Emmanuel Fritz, Professor of Forestry at the University of California and Professor Howard Michaud, Professor in the Forestry Department of Purdue University. Another lumber company was kind enough to send the class 38 mimeographed copies of the questionnaire with answers following each question. After the unit was completed the children were eager to take a questionnaire with its answers home, altho our study of the questionnaire did not always show that these answers were what the class thought correct.

PROJECTS After all replies from the companies were received, it was noted that the pupils have over 120 different pamphlets, graphs, and charts, from which to gather answers. These materials suggested ideas for projects. Most of the boys preferred to work on wood projects in their industrial arts class. Some of the things they made were a bird house, a model boat, broom holder, special bookends for geography books, smaller bookends with art designs painted on the ends, rope winder, model church, wooden potter wheel, peg game, baseball game, paper spindle, house number plate, and a lamp base. The latter was beautifully constructed. The industrial arts teacher loaned us for study and display samples of 48 types of wood with their uses mounted on a large piece of plywood.

The girls also made many beautifully colored projects. Two girls drew and painted a cross-section of a gigantic Sequoia tree with historical dates showing the diameter of the tree at each of

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Fig. 1. This girl points to graphs which show that in January, 1951, lumber production,

shipments, and new orders were greater than they have ever been.

the various dates from its estimated beginning, 2000 B.C., until the Korean conflict. Other colorful projects consisted of a crosssection of logs split up into six or seven parts showing the “Causes of Fire,” “Where the Drain Goes,” “Uses of Wood,” “How Fire Ruins Wood," and the like.

Boys and girls both worked on bar graphs showing “Exports and Imports of Lumber from Leading Countries,” “Production, Shipments, and Orders in January, 1951” (Fig. 1), “Forest Protection” (showing the 48 states with their protected and unprotected area), and “Lumber Production.” Also circle graphs were made to show how much of the earth is used for forests, farms, pasture, etc. Two boys made a poster showing the five steps necessary in planting a seedling with a mattock. The pupils learned the method of measuring the number of logs in a tree by using a Biltmore stick as demonstrated in another project. A long vocabulary list of new words encountered in connection with lumber was pre

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