As with many new endeavors, it takes some time to get all of the pieces to fall into place. The Spirit of Athenian III was no different. We had nearly 60 interested students, relatively limited work space, a handful of adult mentors, and the need to fit the sessions into the after school hours. An operation of this size and scope required quite a bit of organization of the various groups. A tip of the hat to Eugene, the faculty lead on the project, for taking this on and finding a way to make it all work.
STUDENTS: Eugene devised a work schedule that would evenly divide the students into eight teams of 6 or 7, with two, 90-minute sessions planned each week. This allowed the students to remain with the same students each session, and to work on the same day each week with one session each month.
ADULT MENTORS: Eugene wanted to be sure that enough mentors were at each session so that the students would have proper training and supervision. Marsh, the founder of the program, was available for some sessions, but it was clear that additional mentors would be needed. Bruce, an Athenian teacher and mentor on the two other airplane projects, was excited to help with the third build. Bill, a retired teacher, heard about the project and wanted to volunteer his time. Then, in what we call a stroke of very good fortune, Joe, a retired engineer with over 30 years of technical fabrication experience, also showed interest in the program. Seems that his interest was driven by the fact that he had been building his own RV-12 for the past few years in his garage! This was a perfect fit.
STUDENT MENTORS: Two upper school students, Sho and Blair, were experienced with all of the tools in the shop through their time with the Robotics program, and they offered to help facilitate the work sessions on a regular basis. Their leadership, expertise and patience have been invaluable.
TRAINING: Another challenge was the reality that many of these middle and upper school students had little previous experience with power tools, riveting, or airplane building. It became clear that there was some essential groundwork that would need to be laid to ensure the success of the project and the safety of the students. To that end, each session began with a safety review, stressing the importance of proper attire (safety goggles, closed-toed shoes, no loose strings on clothing, long hair tied back) and behavior. Each student was also formally trained on each of the power machines in the shop, including the drill press, bench grinder, belt sander, air-driven rivet guns, and all of the other tools in the shop.