MHS Students, Staff Excited About Tech

Lucy Bambauer and Mike Reams tagteamed a laser engraved Roughrider football helmet to demonstrate Memorial High School’s new laser engraving table. The engraver will work on wood, metal, painted wood and some plastics.Industrial Technologies teacher Mike Reams guides Morgan Seewer in the use of the new virtual welder at Memorial High School. The welder allows students to learn in a safe environment and was one of several tool purchased with a $450,000 grant.
Staff Writer

A little can go a long way when it comes to the educational system so when St. Marys City Schools was awarded a $450,000 Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant from the Ohio Department of Education, the opportunities for student development looked almost endless.

The first year of the grant provided the district with $232,000 for the purchase of two new welders, a virtual welder — a safe option for less experienced students — plasma cutter, 3D printer, 30 new computers with AutoCAD software, interactive monitors for classrooms, a final cutter and online modules to prepare students for credentialing.

Future purchases with the approximately $110,000 in years two and three include new mills and lathes as well as a forklift simulator and hands-on equipment for high school STEM classes.

“We have some really cool technology,” Agricultural Education teacher Lucy Bambauer excitedly said. “We had so little time to pick out what we were going to purchase in the first portion, because we got the grant in May and had to have it spent by the end of June, that we knew what we were getting but I don’t think we envisioned all the opportunities we were going to get with these tools. We had a few specific things we thought we could do but after going through some training and talking to other teachers, we found out that the sky is the limit.”

Bambauer added that out of all the equipment purchased, the virtual welder is something she is very excited about. Placed in a separate room from the rest of the workshop, the welding stand allows for quiet, easy instruction in a safe location. The most difficult part of teaching a student to weld is that it is hard for students to see and hear what their instructor is trying to show them, Bambauer said. 

“It’s a much less intimidating way for kids to learn and it’s much safer because you don’t have the arcs and the heat,” added industrial arts teacher Mike Reams. 

He noted that students have taken a liking to the welder and turn it into a competition. The virtual welder gives the students a score out of 100 based on the different aspects of a good weld from speed to angle and distance. Reams said he has seen groups of three or four kids taking turns trying to gain one more point than their friends — which is not only good for the students but also for industries that may hire the students after school.

In addition to the welder, students now have access to a laser engraver, 3D printer, vinyl printer and architectural plotter to help turn their digital ideas into physical materials they can use to enhance their projects. 

“The things that these tools can do are pretty much limitless and it’s going to make the projects the kids do here look super professional but also give them a real-world application to some of the software and computer projects they do in the CAD classroom,” Bambauer said. 

“It’s fun to see the way the kids branch off into different technologies and different interests,” added Reams.