Metal art competition requires critical thinking skills

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  • Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald An Ephrata student works to turn scrap metal into a grain silo in the Metal Art competition Thursday at Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center.

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    Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald A Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center student puts a grinder to work in the Metal Art competition Thursday at the skills center.

  • Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald An Ephrata student works to turn scrap metal into a grain silo in the Metal Art competition Thursday at Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center.

  • 1

    Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald A Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center student puts a grinder to work in the Metal Art competition Thursday at the skills center.

MOSES LAKE — The team from Kamiakin High School had an idea what they were going to do with those broken springs, pieces of rusted pipe, stray gears and that tangled bent-up metal – um, something. What looked like a useless (and dirty) pile of scrap metal would be a scarecrow when they were done.

But – y’know, break apart that bundle of copper rods and the copper could add a really nice accent. Changing the plan in the middle of the project is part of the challenge of the Metal Art competition at Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center Thursday.

“Critical thinking,” said Kamiakin teacher Denise Senor. “That’s what I like about the metal art contests. They have to think.”

Contestants included teams from Wilson Creek, Othello, Ephrata, Wilbur-Creston, Kamiakin, Moses Lake, a second team from Moses Lake High School FFA and three teams from the skills center. The competitors were required to use bits and pieces of discarded scrap metal to create sculpture, and the only information they had in advance was that “harvest” would be the theme.

The team from Ephrata picked up a bunch of socket chain. “We’re thinking about doing a couple grain silos,” said Elena Duffner. One of the skills center teams was working on a tractor, starting with a generator rack, a pile of orphaned gears, an empty propane tank and metal corner braces.

“Besides the fun, it teaches them (students) to work with each other,” said Erik Nielsen, Wilbur-Creston shop instructor. Competitors have to learn to deal with each other; “they’ve got to let their egos go,” and listen to other ideas. “I think it’s awesome.”

Competitors have to figure out how to deal with the unexpected, and learn skills they will use after high school, Senor said. “That’s real-world experience right there,” Nielsen said.

One of the three skills center teams planned to do a combine in a cornfield, with turned earth, cornstalks, the whole picture. It seemed like a lot of work in a competition with a time limit, but Colin Clemons wasn’t worried. “”We’ll have it done. We’re CB Tech students. We always have it done.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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