JAY — For almost three decades Daniel Lemieux, an industrial arts and technology instructor at Spruce Mountain High School, has been teaching a unit on measurement and fraction for fourth grade students during mid-term week.

Spruce Mountain Elementary School fourth grade students learned about measuring and fractions during a hands-on lesson at the high school last week. Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 member Owen Wilkins helps Alaina Kachnovich make a measurement on her block. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Lemieux said 28 years ago he received a grant to teach math concepts to fourth graders in the then-Jay School System. While making a key-ring or jewelry holder the young students learned how to measure, about quantities and the relationships between various fractions.

“It’s a great unit getting kids interested in hands-on work,” he said. “This is my last year doing it.”

For several years Lemieux members of Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team #3930 have helped teach the lesson. Lemieux is the advisor for that team.

Lemieux told the younger students, “Measurement, learning how to fabricate and put things together is really important.”

While those students watched a video explaining this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition challenge, Lemieux said “More and more we’re seeing kids today are lacking in hands-on skills.”

He told the fourth graders there are good paying jobs in plumbing and other technical fields available with two years of additional schooling after high school.

Lemieux said the measurement system used in the United States are based on wood.

“Houses here are built with wood, steel and sheetrock,” he said. “Inches, parts of inches and feet are used to measure those. Foot measurements came from the length of the average man’s foot.

“In early America people needed a way to trade and barter. One family made rope, another had apples or potatoes. A bushel was based on how much could be held in a lady’s skirt.”

Lemieux then went over the types of fractions found in an inch.

“When you divide the whole in two equal parts, there are two halves,” he said. “If things work, you keep doing it again and again.

SMART member Annabelle Collins at right helps Isaiah Ayer and Finley Fortier figure out the correct fraction needed for a measurement. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“There are four quarters, eight eighths and sixteen sixteenths in an inch. Each time you make a smaller fraction the numbers double.

“Fractions do make sense. They were set up logically.

“What’s confusing in measurements is that some lines have dual meanings. Two-fourths, four-eighths, eight-sixteenths and one half are all the same.”

Lemieux said one-sixteenth is pretty accurate for building, but there are more accurate systems used when measuring other things.

The fourth graders were each given a wooden block. They were asked to trace a pattern on one side and write their name on the other. Next they were shown how to measure 1.25 inches before using those measurements to draw a straight line along the long side of their block.

“Remember, go one full inch then another quarter inch,” SMART member Annabelle Collins told a student she was helping.

Teammate Owen Wilkins also made his way around the room giving assistance where needed.

Lemieux also told the students they should practice reading, their listening skills and raising their hands instead of yelling out answers daily.

“If you do, you will do well in school,” he said.

After marking several more spots on their blocks, the students had the shape cut out by Lemieux. They then sanded the piece, stained it and added four hooks for holding key rings or jewelry.

About 80 minutes were spent on the project. Each fourth grade student left with a completed key ring or jewelry holder to take home.

SMES fourth grade student Zoey Foss traces a pattern onto her wooden block during a measurement lesson given at the high school last week. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

According to Lemieux, technology education capitalizes on the student’s potential for reasoning and problem solving, for imagining and creating, for constructing and expressing themselves with tools and materials. Concepts of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) are applied to give meaningful, first-hand experiences to students. It develops content and experiences using a hands-on approach, which contributes to the growth of students towards their highest potential.

The Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART) is an extra-curricular activity for Spruce Mountain High School students. It is an opportunity for interested students to participate in FIRST Robotic Competition (FRC), where they design, build, and program industrial quality robots that compete in challenging and entertaining tournaments. Much more that just a robotics program, students engage in activities that teach skills ranging from computers (CAD, programming, 3-D printing) to entrepreneurship (business management, leadership, accounting for a $30,000/year budget) to industrial safety (safe practices, first aid, OSHA requirements) to artistic design (costumes and wardrobe, web site development) to communications  (marketing and social media development). The skills participants learn in SMART are essential for success in any college major or any career.


Key racks or jewelry holders were made last week by SMES fourth grade students with help from SMART members. Pictured from left are Isabella Crenshaw, SMART member Annabelle Collins, Camryn Lovewell and Layla Ryder. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser




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