CENTERBURG — Industrial technology at Centerburg High School is for the birds — literally.
Members of the Industrial Technology Club are busy making wren and bluebird houses for those fine feathered friends. The students took orders ahead of time, and now have about 100 units to complete and deliver before bluebirds start looking for homes, around March 10.
Instructor Denny Allen said that in addition to learning how to properly use tools, jigs and fixtures, the birdhouse project gives the students entrepreneurial experience.
“They sell these,” he said, “and the salesmen get a commission on each house they sell. We’re selling a very good product, made the way it should be according to the Bluebird Association, and we’re selling it for a good price.”
The doors of the wren houses the club is making are small round holes, while bluebirds, Allen said, prefer a slot.
“Sparrows don’t like the slot as well,” he explained, “and we want to keep the sparrows from evicting the bluebirds. So we try to give the bluebirds what they like and what the sparrows don’t.”
The birdhouses open so they can be cleaned out, and students were routing a sort of step on the inside so the little birds can reach the door opening. Corners are nipped off for drainage and the houses are vented at the top for air circulation. The birdhouses will not be painted, Allen said, because bluebirds don’t like that.
“We are here to teach kids that they don’t have to go get a job to get an income,” Allen said. “They can come up with their own business. We want them to see that. We want them to see the mass production process; how we can speed things up. We’re going to get 100 birdhouses made in just four or five periods because there’s just one setup. There’s no measuring after the first setup. We just use mass production techniques. They learn about doing batch processing, which can be done for most of the projects that we do. They learn how mass production works. They learn to think about work flow and solving some problems.”
Chase Hatcher, a junior, liked being able to get a commission for each birdhouse he sold.
“Also,” he said, “it’s good for birds that need houses so that other animals can’t get into them and eat their eggs. It’s pretty good just because we can learn how to do all this and learn how to get a job done.”
Andy Murmann also enjoys working on the birdhouses. He said it was interesting to learn the different stations, but, since each student had a specific job rather than doing a complete birdhouse assembly, Murmann said it got “kind of boring” after a while, doing the same task repetitively.