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Teacher’s Edge: Instilling Interest Early


Teacher’s Edge: Instilling Interest Early

Andrice Tucker, a winner of the 2022 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence, has found a new way to put his skilled trades students’ knowledge to the test. In his C9 Engine Bootcamp, high school automotive students at Central Nine Career Center mentor eighth graders from their local middle school through an engine build. Tucker discovered great ways to evaluate lesson success, implement teaching opportunities, and instill early interest in students that can be applied in a variety of skilled trades classrooms.

The bootcamp started its first official session from February 12-16, 2024, with a total of 46 eighth graders attending each day from noon to 2 p.m. Each eighth grader was paired with a mentor student from Tucker’s automotive program and began by learning to identify all the major components of an internal combustion engine. Once mentors were confident in their eighth graders’ abilities, they issued a quiz to assess if the younger students were ready to begin the project. Tucker used the quizzes to evaluate both the mentors and mentees on their knowledge.

Once students passed the quiz, they could begin building the Ford model engines. When students could accurately reference each component, it ensured that the engine would rotate when it was complete. Some pairings showed that practice makes perfect—at least two projects required students to identify an issue in the build and work backwards to fix it.

As the week went on, Tucker could see relationships building between the mentors and mentees. The eighth graders showed much respect for their high school counterparts and how confident they were in the content of the project. A post-bootcamp survey of the eighth graders illustrated how much they enjoyed working with their mentors and that they found it easier to relate to them with the lesser age gap than a traditional teacher. Tucker hopes these students will show interest in his and other skilled trades programs in the future now that they have seen what CTE can offer them.

The bootcamp was not without its challenges. Tucker and his counterparts at the middle school had to ensure that students were not missing too much of their core classes, so they strategized to hold the camp during weeks that were flexible with schoolwork. There was also the matter of transporting eighth graders to the high school and being flexible with bus and driver shortages. Lastly, Tucker worked hard to get counselors at both schools to understand the purpose of the camp. Since completing the first session, more have been won over by the success with younger students.

“The impact this has had on eighth graders and our entire campus is amazing,” Tucker said. “We hope to run this camp again next year.”