A new addition to the Applied Trades classes
New to the Boys Home Applied Trades program this year, Danny Cale’s home wiring class is a project-based, hands-on class that teaches not only home wiring, but the basics of budgeting, teamwork, and managing a company.
A former Boys Home resident himself, Mr. Cale designed the class with Boys Home students in mind. The class is structured like a company; of the five students, the one with the best grade is the owner of the company, and the one with the second-best grade is the manager. Like a real company, the class gets “paid” for jobs completed, and they must “pay” for parts, tools, and training. As they learn more, they are able to bid on more complex jobs and “earn” more money for the company. The structure of the class has proven effective, as students compete to take control of the company, and all students strive to learn more and work together in order to take on more complex jobs.
“What I find amazing is how competitive they are with their grades in order to take over the company,” says Mr. Cale. “And the competitiveness of the company is driving them to learn newer and bigger things.” Of the five students, four have A or A+ averages and show up on time every day.
Project-based learning emphasizes practical knowledge
Here’s how it works: at the start of each project, the customer (Mr. Cale) requests a quote for work to be done, such as wiring a GFI outlet, a switch, a new light, and/or a three-way switch. The students create the proposal, and the customer has the option to accept or decline. Once the customer accepts the proposal, students create a purchase order for the parts and tools. Everyone works together to do the work; once complete, the electrical inspector (Mr. Cale) ensures everything is done properly, and the customer pays the company for the job. After each transaction, the company receives a balance sheet showing how much money is in their account.
If the customer requests a quote for something the company hasn’t learned how to do, they must first pay to take a class and learn how to do the project. If they don’t have the money to pay for materials or training, first they must complete a smaller job to earn what they need. Fairly quickly, the class learned that if they don’t create an accurate proposal, or if they purchase more materials than they need, the company loses money. To correct their mistakes, they have begun creating practical schematics for each project before submitting a bid.
Learning from mistakes
Despite their initial mistakes, Mr. Cale is confident in their knowledge and abilities. When asked if he would hire them to wire an outlet in his house, he responded with, “Yes, absolutely. Any one of them.” Putting their practical knowledge to use, the class plans to install the wiring in the new Applied Trades building later this year.
Mr. Cale’s class is a great example of Boys Home School’s hand-on approach to education, which promotes learning through experience-based projects and models.