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Tangible technology

Muncy students using cutting edge technology to learn

SETH NOLAN/Sun-Gazette
Hunter Heivly stands with the CDC machine he’s been working on for months.

SETH NOLAN/Sun-Gazette Hunter Heivly stands with the CDC machine he’s been working on for months.

Some students at Muncy High School are taking some significant strides in making projects people only could have imagined decades before.

Mark Kreisher, a technology teacher, instructs more than a dozen classes that use the latest in technology to teach students tangible skills.

“I’ve always been interested in the technology,” he said. “I followed tech news and watched for the latest developments.”

Around five years ago, 3D printers became more popular and have been increasingly more available for the average person to own.

Kreisher’s large shop now has six.

One of their older 3D printers heats plastic filaments down into thin strips and layers them to form a shape that was scanned on a turntable moments before.

Their newest printer works on a whole different level of technology.

A vat of photopolymer that is sensitive to ultraviolet light sits at the bottom and the shape the student conceived comes out of the liquid.

“This new one opens up a whole new realm of what the kids can do,” Kreisher said. “What I like about these printers is that the students can hold examples of what they make in their hands to see what they did right and what they did wrong.”

Linking technologies

The 3D printers are used in mostly all of Kreisher’s classes as a crucial piece in his effective teaching method and philosophy.

“It’s all about output,” Kreisher said. “I want to teach the kids something they can use when they leave … I was the type of kid that wanted to know how I could use what I was learning and that’s what I want to show them.”

In Kreisher’s classes, students link the technologies that are available to them in the classrooms, including the printers, to make finished products.

A common project for students is laser engraving wooden cutting boards they make themselves.

“I have them look up a price of a similar cutting board on Amazon and then say ‘OK, now we’re gonna go make them,’ “ he said. “It demystifies the product and shows them how easy it can be to make their own.”

Many of the projects Kreisher’s students make are a combination of science, technology and art. And there’s been a recent push for student’s to make something that contributes to the school.

Making their own

A computer numerical control is the automation of machine tools through computers pre-programmed with sequences of machine control commands.

CNC machines are a common tool for students to complete a lot of their projects.

But as one of his projects, Hunter Heivly is making his own CNC machine.

“I will be able to put a piece of wood in and engrave it with lettering or designs,” Heivly said. “It will be programmed and cut everything out precisely.”

Heivly has a woodshop at his house with everything he needed but a CNC machine.

“And I couldn’t wrap my head around spending $8,000 on it when we have one right over there,” he said pointing to the one used in Kreisher’s classes. “I could use that one as a template and make minor adjustments to mine.”

For Joshua Sweeney, blacksmithing began as a passion for collecting knives.

“But I was never willing to use them because they’d break or I would lose them,” Sweeney said.

He started making his own with more ornamental style.

His biggest project was making his own fire poker and shovel set.

“He designed it himself, which is a feat in itself,” Kreisher said. “And then he hand forged it using an old piece from the school.”

Sweeney keeps and uses the custom set at home.

“It was quite the learning curve, but I really enjoyed working on it.”

Classes like this are becoming more crucial to a rounding education, Kreisher said.

“In the future it’s going to be important to have people who have engineering skills,” he said. “To be able to build a thing and knowing the process while making that connection and learning the practical approach. The kids are getting that.”