Submitted by Rene Carroll
Washougal High School Fine Arts Woodworking students have to think “outside the box” when faced with a design and manufacturing issue posed by a local business.
The Camas-based startup, Foodie in Training, offers subscribers a collection of tried-and-true recipes to help bring a family table experience back to today’s time-strapped, technology dominated household. Their members receive monthly recipes, how-to cooking videos and quarterly mailings of recipes to add to their collection; recipe cards which fit nicely into a robust Foodie in Training recipe box.
“The basic challenge was for students to make a better box at a better price,” explained Brent Mansell, WHS Wood and Metal Technology Teacher. “With the target finished price $10 per box, students had to think critically about materials used, including type of wood, hinges, stains, and nails, as well as how to reduce labor costs by choosing the best cut of wood and keeping in mind efficient assembly time.”
In a presentation to students in October, Foodie partners Stephanie Millman, Kelly Bruce and Kasey Morales, explained their recipe boxes were previously constructed by a crate manufacturer in Wisconsin from scrape pallet materials. “After three orders, we found that they were too heavy and expensive to ship and the quality was not high enough to represent our brand,” Morales explained. “We like the rustic look of the existing boxes, the fact they are made in the USA, and the internal size that allows for the expansion of a recipe card collection.” What they were not satisfied with was the weight (leading to a high cost of shipping) and the overall appearance of the finished piece.
“We’re delivering a high quality, tactile experience,” explained Morales. “We want the boxes to look good enough to proudly display on kitchen counters.” The three most important aspects for students to consider were design, function and cost.
“We asked the students to keep the customers in mind,” said Millman. “Our target market includes Foodie members and gift givers. We asked them to do their own research and consult with their family about the project to get their thoughts.”
Once students heard the design parameters and expectations, they got busy taking measurements of box samples, jotting down notes on paper and creating new design ideas. Their next step was to take those ideas out to the wood shop to begin creating prototypes.
“Students are learning valuable lessons through this process,” said Mansell. “They are considering the needs of a customer in the look, function and quality of the final product. They are also realizing how their time is money and the importance of considering how manufacturing elements affect the cost to construct each box.”
“We are very excited to connect with a local business that can bring a real-world problem to our classrooms and students,” said Margaret Rice, Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director. “Not only are CTE students presented with an actual business challenge to solve, but once a winning box design is created, the Foodies will have a better product and will need ongoing manufacturing which could result in a job for students.”
“This has been a very exciting process for us,” said Morales. “We love providing this classroom opportunity for our high school students and are impressed with the enthusiasm they have brought to the project.” To demonstrate student pride, the final boxes will be signed by the individual students who built them.
WHS sophomore, Aiden Baalaer, admits that this project feels different from other class assignments. “It seems like we are working as a team on a real job,” he said. “It is challenging to make sure that every part of the box fits flush and perfect.”
Baalaer enjoys the hands-on aspect of woodworking. Before the box project he built a scribe and a cutting board. “In this day and age, it seems like more people are moving toward working with technology, so it is good to learn a skill that you use hands, tools and saws for,” he said.
“We would like to continue to work with local businesses to provide authentic business challenges for our students in the classroom,” said Rice. “Real-world application of 21st Century Skills like problem solving taught in this way are critical for students heading into the job market.”
Customers can get a look at the student created boxes and learn more about Foodie in Training at the upcoming Washougal High School Bazaar on Saturday, November 16. “We are excited to meet new customers and show off the wonderful talent of these WHS students!” said Bruce.
For more information about Foodie in Training contact Bruce at 360-771-7893 or find them online at www.foodieintraining.org.