Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday..... and an 'In Service' day for instructors at my school. That means students get the day off and so do instructors, usually. It's kind of an extra day built into the school schedule to allow flexibility. Burn a snow day = cancel an in service day... like that.

Today is an exception to the rule. Today is an in service day where we are going in, and will be working full bore all day. You see, my school is hosting district Skills competitions this year. My program... we are hosting the Automotive Technology contest.

Yesterday we and the boys got our lab all spiffy, all the test stations set up, and just generally built a pretty good competition for the contestants. I've sent students to poorly thought out and very poorly run competitions, and it was a bad deal. I'll never do to students what others have done to mine. They should be judged on their skills and knowledge, not arbitrary whims of a biased proctor.

So.... we have seven work stations set up; drum brakes, electrical testing, component ID, a written test, alignment angles, precision measuring, and interpreting ignition lab scope patterns.

As we built the work stations and our own students saw what the contest was to be (none would volunteer to compete (%$##@), we heard numerous comments from them. They ranged from "This doesn't look so hard" down to "You are dark and twisted people". I pointed out to our boys that my partner and I are so famously mean, the other schools are busing students in so we can be mean to them for a day as well (g).

A few examples of the joys the contestants face: They'll have an ignition coil, and be asked to measure resistance of the primary and secondary windings. They'll also have a vehicle battery, and be asked to measure open circuit voltage (across the terminals without load, easy!). Then, they will be asked to apply Ohm's law and determine the amperage draw of the primary coil windings. Ruh Ro Rorge... Remember formulas and do math?!?

They'll have a Ford Focus on the alignment rack, with heads comped and numbers on the screen already. All they need to do is properly record all the angles, and then predict how the car will handle on the road based on those angles. (BWAHAHahaha).

The precision measuring? The items to be measured include a cam shaft, a brake rotor, a step bar, and the micrometers themselves. They need to make 14 precision measurements (only to the thousandth, thats all) and then check the tools themselves and tell us how far from zero they really are. Of course, the right mic for the right measurement.... There will be four different micrometers laid out, and none are digital.

It goes on... and we will keep them busy for a while. Each station only allows 15 minutes on the tasks, so they will have to step along pretty smoothly. It's a Contest, and we are trying to weed out a winner from the losers. Unlike kiddie soccer where everybody wins and everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, in our contest there will be one winner. It's not meant to be easy. It's meant to allow skill and knowledge room to shine, and also allow dullards room to sink.

Yes, we are mean, dark, and twisted. That said... today there will be one student who will prove he's the best in the district, and the rest will have had a fair shot at the same title.


Sparrow said...

Sounds like a fun day! Nothing beats torturing kids!!

Old NFO said...

That should be interesting :-) Curious to know what the outcome is, if you can share that later.