Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Great Teaching Day at Burgundy Farm Country Day School

Recently, we spent an amazing afternoon teaching a group of 1st graders at Burgundy Farm Country Day School.  We'd been asked to demonstrate blacksmithing as part of their Farm Fest, a culmination of the 1st graders' unit of various aspects of farming.  The teachers did a magnificent job of organizing the event  - it was really well-done and an excellent model for using a demonstration such as ours as a teaching tool.

The children were well-prepared, having studied about blacksmithing as part of their unit.  They knew that the forge was hotter than lava, before I had the chance to tell them!   They had also watched the blacksmithing video of Jeff the day before we arrived.

 We first presented to the entire group of 30 children for about a half-hour.  We'd brought the propane forge (to avoid any issues with smoke) and demo'd some colonial-style nails to show the various aspects of the forge, anvil, hammer, tongs....as well as the way nails are made, which brings up how blacksmiths often make their own tools in order to make various items.

Then, the class was split into 4 groups of 6-7 children and rotated around 4 stations (a craft, a relay, a snack w/ butter-making, and our demo).  We had about 10 minutes to show each group more about blacksmithing.  We took the opportunity to show them how to make S hooks, which allowed us to teach about "rat tails" and "whale tails" and "twists" with the vice.  They were able to see a hook being made from start to finish, see it be cooled and then handle it, which brings up a lot of science discussions, as the children can actually see the water that cools the hot metal start to boil when the metal touches the water!

As always, we had brought along our kid-friendly blacksmithing station, with a small anvil, hammer, tongs, and most importantly, aluminum (which doesn't have to be heated in order to bend).  The children were all given an opportunity to try it all out.

Even Jeff enjoys the "kid-anvil!": 

The children picked up a great deal of knowledge in a short time frame, and we were very happy to be a part of their festival.  We demo because we love to teach, and this was a prime example of why we do what we do.  Thank you!

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