ABOVE PHOTO: Technology education student Lucas Edson, right, talks with a classmate and first-grader about their toy design.
On an early fall morning, 23 children from St. Paul’s School of Menomonie recently walked four blocks to University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Woods Lab in Jarvis Hall Tech Wing, unknowing of what their day would bring.
Lining up single file at the back of the classroom, they quietly peered over university students in a Design for Industry class led by Assistant Professor Kevin Dietsche.
“Everything is designed in this world,” Dietsche said. “Today, you get to work with college students to design toys.”
“Toys!?” the children excitedly echoed back.
Together, the children and university students worked in teams to build rough prototypes of their ideal toys using paper, cardboard, scissors, tape, pipe cleaners, clay, tin foil, Legos, glue, markers, crayons and other supplies, as part of a three-year, cross-disciplinary project that will result in a finished product donated to local children.
The collaboration started last spring, when the engineering and technology department partnered with the City of Menomonie’s Urban Forestry Board to obtain a dozen ash trees cut down in the city. The department then sawed the trees into lumber.
“Part of the idea is to take something dead or dying and make it new and useful again. To give it new life,” Dietsche said.
“We have a great collaborative effort between the business administration, engineering technology, technology education and packaging programs, while supporting student development,” he added. “We are excited about continuing and partnering with outside entities, like the city and local schools, as we embark on this project, using an adapted, human-centered design process. This is a special class and an extremely awesome opportunity to work with the first-graders.”