N. Lebanon High School students learn to build their own guitars

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With school about to resume in a few weeks, we're taking a look at the midstate's “School of Rock”:
a course at Northern Lebanon High School where students learn how to make an instrument.

In James Hoffer's technical education class, it might sound like a rock concert, but it's actually final exams. Students finishing up and presenting their year-long project: electric guitars they designed and built.

“Is the instrument playable?,” Hoffer asks the students. “That was one of your design briefs. It had to be a tunable, playable guitar when you walked out.”

This is a pilot program at Northern Lebanon High School involving students using science, technology, egineering and math — and having fun doing it. They are combining woodworking, electronic and artistic skills to make something to be admired and played. Not all the kids play guitar, but they all learned skills they can use through life.

Junior Josh Goodwin said the experience is enriching and holistic. 

“You learn wood working, circuitry, electronics … and how to into a working guitar,” Goodwin said. 

The guitar building program was initiated through a grant from the National Science Foundation aimed at getting students excited about using math and science concepts in hands-on projects that appeal to teenagers.

“Your finish looks nice,” Hoffer comments on a student's guitar. “I see all that beautiful grain in there. Now, does it play?”

Through the elective course, the students not only build guitars, they build teamwork by making sure classmates stay on track and offering advice and help when needed.  

When they're done, they ear more than a letter grade.

Senior Alex Gardner said his guitar hold special memories.

“It's got a lot of sentimental value. It means a lot to me. It's something I can keep the rest of my life. It's … real special.”

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