Author: Kristie Smauder
Ever thought about collaboration between a high school welding program and an art program? Well Coloma High School did. Last year, the welding program and the art program got together and came up with an idea that would integrate their two completely different programs.
It all began when welding and machine tools teacher, Kevin Kreitner started teaching art teacher Kristen Maniscalco how to weld during after school hours. Kristen’s background in the arts is in ceramics, functional and non-functional art. As an artist, most people want to explore other forms of art. And that’s exactly what Kristen did. Once she had learned how to weld, she started coming up with projects of her own and creating fascinating art such as making a sculpture by welding pieces of scrap steel together. It was then the idea of creating a project with the welding students and art students came into mind.
Welding is the most familiar way of joining two pieces of metal together. During the process of welding, heat is applied to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. There are all types of welding, but Coloma High School focuses on oxyacetylene, electric arc, mig and tig welding. They have and Introduction to Welding class, which is Welding 1&2. Once a student has completed Welding 2, they can receive college credit from Lake Michigan College. They can also go onto Advanced Welding, which is Welding 3-6. They also receive college credit from Lake Michigan College after students have completed Welding 4.
Last year, the Welding Students built nine dinosaurs sculptures that would be displayed all around Coloma for everyone to see for the summer. The project included 27 welding students, 3 drafting students, 3 advanced business software students, and 5 advanced manufacturing students. The sculptures were of nine different dinosaurs that are ¼ scale that include the; Stegosaurus, Spinosaurs, Pterodactl, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dimetrodon, Triceritops, Parasaurolphus, Sacolestes, and Twin Raptors. To construct just one dinosaur, it took up to 70 student hours and the whole project had already accumulated 500 student hours. The sculptures were made out of ¼ inch thick steel sheets that were 4 feet by 8 feet. As one would imagine, some sculptures are extremely heavy. Certain dinosaurs weighed over 500 pounds and some weighed a lot less at 50 to 60 pounds.
This project is still continuing today with other ideas and sculptures, but this collaboration between the art program and welding program is a great way for students to understand connections between two subjects. This also introduces students, especially female students, into welding when it was not something they were particularly interested in. And the same goes for the welding students were introduced into a different type of art.