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Virtual/Home School Jr Mechanics Class for Middle School Kids

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Virtual/Home School Jr Mechanics Class for Middle School Kids

Old 08-24-2020, 10:27 AM
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Default Virtual/Home School Jr Mechanics Class for Middle School Kids

With most of the kids in our neighborhood doing virtual schooling for the unforeseeable future, some of us parents had a idea to hold various weekly "elective" classes for the kids. One parent is doing Yoga, another Art (comic and other cool stuff), and there are still s few other ideas floating around.

I decided it would be fun to have a Mechanics Shop class for a handful of kids. Considering this isn't something most schools offer now anyway, I felt the importance of providing these sort of skills to the younger generations coming up was even more important, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so.

This class is going to consist of some auto basics (changing a tire, wiper blades, oil, as well as general auto maintenance), basic bicycle maintenance (changing a tire, putting the chain back on, adjusting the brakes, etc...), and we will also have a class project of taking an out of service golf cart, bring it back to life, then work on upgrades.

A few weeks ago, I posted in The Carolinas section my idea and Skiff Dweller awesomely donated his cart to the cause. It's a 36 Volt Club Car which stopped working. Using this cart, I'm going to take the opportunity to teach the kids about low voltage electric and how to troubleshoot the problem area till we find the culprit and can get it running again. Then the fun continues with replacing wearable parts and making a few modifications.

My first intention was to limit this to 5 kids. To my surprise I had an over-full roster at 8. All middle school aged.

Last week was the first week of the class and things went very well! Being the first week, I wanted to start off with safety (because you should ALWAYS begin with safety). I handed the kids glasses, gloves, and advised of the safety rules of the shop. I then went into fire safety, how a fire works, and how you can extinguish different fires. Then the fun began, I created a small fire in an old grill I had, then I let them each take a shot at it with the fire extinguisher. They were having a GREAT time with this!
Once the safety session was concluded, we started our first "mechanics" session by changing the tube on a students bike. I was very pleased with how inquisitive the kids were as well as their thought processes.


Disclaimer: I have no history of being a teacher, professional mechanic, electrician, or fire fighter (though I do come from a long line of fire fighters). I haven't even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. I do, however, have a deep interest in making sure kids have the basic idea of all of these things as they grow into adults as they most likely otherwise wouldn't learn these skills.

Last edited by Mooney6959; 08-24-2020 at 01:09 PM.
Old 08-24-2020, 10:40 AM
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Nice work !! Keep it up
Old 08-24-2020, 10:41 AM
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Great idea! I can send you an old chain saw...
Old 08-24-2020, 10:53 AM
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Great idea!

Last edited by Knoxes; 08-24-2020 at 11:55 AM.
Old 08-25-2020, 03:01 PM
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What a great idea. Teaching a kid how to use a fire extinguisher is definitely a useful skill that could come in handy some day
Old 08-25-2020, 03:03 PM
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Great idea, even better idea was removing the photos!
Old 08-25-2020, 03:08 PM
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WOW! Tremendous idea and great effort on your part. We need more people like you to help pick up the slack that events like Covid cause. Nice work.
Old 08-25-2020, 07:46 PM
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Love this. Very cool
Old 08-25-2020, 07:54 PM
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Yes, very cool. These kids will remember this class and your efforts the rest of their lives.
Old 08-26-2020, 03:56 AM
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Great idea. You can probably fill as many classes as you want to teach. I do a week-long Grandpa's Fish Camp for my grandson and a friend. This was year 5. I could fill it every week all summer if I wanted to! Kids love that kind of stuff.
Old 08-26-2020, 04:20 AM
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Great idea. You should create a YouTube channel to share the videos.
Old 08-28-2020, 12:04 PM
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Thank you all for the inspiration and kudos!

We held our second class yesterday. These kids really impress me not only with their interest but also in their level of understanding.

We reviewed the basic overview schematic of electric golf cart wiring. Nothing complex, just a sketch I drew on the white board. I showed them how the batteries are linked in a series to provide the voltage needed to run the cart, and also detailed the different possible failure points for why it may not run.
I then showed them how to use a voltmeter and let them each test the voltage on each of the batteries to see how well each was holding voltage. Then we went through and tested the Forward/Reverse switch and key switch till we found the problem. Then I had them swap out the key switch and prove it's fixed the problem.

Now that it goes, we need to work on getting it to stop. So next week, we're going to replace the brakes.

From there we may look into performance upgrades, which may include upgrading it to 48v.

I'll keep you all posted of our progress along the way, but I do want to tell you how awesome it is to see these kids so interested in the class all together. All hope is not lost on the younger generations yet!
Old 08-28-2020, 12:46 PM
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As good as the idea sounds, I have to question the liability issues and that would be regardless of what material is being taught.
Old 08-28-2020, 01:10 PM
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Keep us updated please.
Old 08-29-2020, 06:11 AM
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Maybe you could do some wood working too. Just basic stuff. Maybe have them build a shelf.
I was a carpenters helper one summer at age 15. I’m 57 years old and I can still hear my bosses words in my head when I’m doing any wood work. “Let the saw do the work”, “just keep hitting that nail on the head”.
The stuff you’re teaching them will be with them for a lifetime.
Old 08-29-2020, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Garett View Post
As good as the idea sounds, I have to question the liability issues and that would be regardless of what material is being taught.
This is the most depressing thing I have read in quite a while...
Old 08-29-2020, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Garett View Post
As good as the idea sounds, I have to question the liability issues and that would be regardless of what material is being taught.
Originally Posted by SOA View Post
This is the most depressing thing I have read in quite a while...
I get it, and there's a very good reason Garrett mentions this.
The parents know that we practice safety, but I assume no liability. Still, that does only hold up as good as my lawyer.
But enough of that dark cloud stuff.
Old 08-29-2020, 09:50 AM
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I would have loved this when I was a kid

frankly there are still a few topics I could brush up on!
Old 08-29-2020, 12:18 PM
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Great work. They will hold on to what you are teaching them long into their lives. You may also be starting a pathway for a child to which higher level learning, like college, might not be right. As far as you not being a teacher, neither were most of our dads, but that's who we learned from.
Old 08-29-2020, 12:42 PM
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Most excellent.

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