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Students build weather station, future careers
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – High school students from around the area were not only building a weather station, but building their future. A dozen high school students from Aloha, Franklin, and Benson took part in the second year of a three-year project of PCC’s Building Construction Technology program called "Framing Student Success." In July, the students constructed an eco-friendly weather station on the Rock Creek Campus. It is the first commercial straw-bale structure to earn a permit from Washington County, says Spencer Hinkle, Building Construction Technology instructor. At each stage of construction the students learned about "green" construction techniques such as sifting dirt. "We’re trying to get smooth dirt so that we can put the first coat of plaster around the straw bale," said Duc Ho, a senior at Benson Tech student. "The plaster is made out of sand, water and dirt. The first coat keeps the insects out of the hay, otherwise they’ll eat it and ruin the structure." Ho said ever since Habitat for Humanity helped build his mother a house, he has been fascinated by building construction. When the Framing for Student Success project started last year, he jumped at the opportunity. "I was very excited, he said. "I’ve learned a lot of things and this has been the greatest experience ever." The project, funded through the National Science Foundation, is a partnership between PCC, Oregon State University and the construction industry. The students also used their recent construction experience and met with the community garden committee at Rock Creek to help plan the building of a "green" structure. Last year, the group researched materials, estimated building costs, and designed and constructed a scale model of a weather station for the Rock Creek Environmental Science Center. "I am always in awe of the creative designs these kids come up with," said Hinkle. "Watching how engaged they are in building their models and presenting their designs reinforces my belief that meaningful hands-on learning gets results." The purpose of Framing Student Success is to increase knowledge among high school students, parents, teachers and counselors of rewarding careers in the construction industry and its educational pathways. In addition, it is designed to strengthen the math, science and writing skills of students in high school construction programs. The project also aids high school teachers in developing curriculum that is designed to engage students. At PCC, the Building Construction Technology program will develop "green" building summer courses to introduce high school students to construction careers. Duc Ho knows he wants to have a career in building construction. "Someday I want to be a construction teacher and help younger kids get the experience I did," said Ho. "Ive wanted to be in construction since I was eight."