Wikwemikong students make history with woodworking project

After steaming the wood, students bend it to form a lacrosse stick.

WIKWEMIKONG—Wikwemikong High School students in Jason Thibault’s Grade 9 Exploring Technology class made school history this month when they embarked on a project to research and build their own wooden toboggans, lacrosse sticks and bows.

“The project started December 1,” explained Mr. Thibault. “The students first researched building toboggans, lacrosse sticks and bows. From that research we concluded that we needed to build a wood steamer and that the class would need to get white ash to bend and make the items.”

“The class built a homemade steamer from PVC pipe with a rack in the middle to steam all six sides of the 2/16 inch white ash strips,” continued Mr. Thibault. “They then used propane heaters to maintain 200° F temperatures for 20 minutes and then students bent wood around a form they created for the desired shape.”

Mr. Thibault said that the students were engaged in the process of engineering a wood steamer and then the fine craft of bending wood to form.

“The entire three week process allowed students to test and explore concepts that most students do not get an opportunity to do in school,” he noted. “This project was initiated by the students and with some instructional guidance and mentoring, the students created history at the school by engineering a steam kit and then using the steam to bend wood to make toboggans, lacrosse sticks and bows. It was a great opportunity for students to become engaged and learn about the art of wood bending. To see students problem-solve, work and learn together was a tremendous accomplishment. When we learn from one another and learn from our mistakes, great things happen.”

Mr. Thibault noted a special thanks to the Manitowaning Mill Home Hardware Building Centre for their help with the project.