Submitted by Evergreen Public Schools

On the last day of school, a yellow bus pulled up at the YWCA of Clark County, carrying nine students, one teacher and a para-teacher, and 20 handmade wooden toy trucks. The trucks were destined for a shelter, to be enjoyed by children affected by domestic violence.

Imagine It, Design It, Make It (IDM) is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) manufacturing class at Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington. It was conceptualized by Susan Mangin, architecture and engineering instructor at the school since the fall of 2017, after teaching at Union High School the previous five years.

“This year, we tried something new,” said Mangin. “To encompass learning about the manufacturing process, the students were given the assignment to work as teams and create a number of wooden toys.” Unlike typical woodshop projects that students complete individually and never progress from the prototype phase, the assignment involved collaborative planning and cooperation, culminating in an “assembly line” build.

The students began by brainstorming and designing the toys. They each first designed their own cars, and as a class, decided which types of cars to build, to “ride” on the flatbed of a semi-truck.

The truck cab dimensions were based on a wooden truck found online. A student drew it in Rhino. Each student drew their own style of cars in Inventor, then as a class, they voted on which two cars they wanted to build. The cars were translated into AutoCAD and saved as DXF files. The students printed cardboard patterns for the truck and cars out of the laser printer and used the patterns to draw the shapes onto the wood.

“They had to figure out, step-by-step, the process of how to build the product and how to organize the manufacturing steps,” said Mangin. “This included doing quality checks at each juncture.”

The students created a material list and budget, and developed the steps for manufacturing the parts, and developed a system for assembly. At the end of nine weeks, they had built 40 flatbed trucks, each carrying two cars.

Mangin started out rotating the students through each stage but soon observed them gravitating toward the areas they were most comfortable with. “Some really felt comfortable working the machines. Others preferred to work on the organization and process, making sure everything was running smoothly and being completed. They were all invested and working as a team.”

Each student wanted to take a truck and two cars home. They enjoyed making the finishing touch with the laser engraver, personalizing the bottom of the flatbed with their name and the date, and often the name of the brother or sister they were going to give the truck to. That left 20 toys the students all agreed should be donated to a place where children would play with them. They contacted the YWCA of Clark County and found a home for the trucks with the SafeChoice domestic violence program.

Kacee Cohen, SafeChoice Assistant Director, and Alix Prior, Shelter Manager, accepted the toys and spoke with the students about the SafeChoice program, which offers safety and resources to survivors of intimate partner violence and their families. They talked about how the toys will benefit kids who often arrive at the shelter having left home in a hurry, without toys or other belongings to comfort them. The students were treated to a pizza-and-cake lunch to thank them for their efforts. Not a bad way to end the school year!

“This is the first time we have ever done this process.  It was a great learning experience for both my students and me. I hope we will do this every year,” said Mangin.

About CTE:  CTE prepares learners for the world of work by introducing them to workplace competencies, and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a hands-on context. Over 125 CTE courses in Evergreen Public Schools allow students to explore high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers in emerging industries. Forty-nine of these courses also fulfill core requirements for graduation. Students have the opportunity to earn college credits while taking many of the courses offered in CTE. The 2016 graduation rate among Evergreen Public Schools CTE students was 90%. Nationally, about 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE pathways. To learn more, go to

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