Waconia HS teacher teams up with cabinetry business to bring wood shop home during distance learning

Advanced students in the class will be making a wooden biplane at home. (FOX 9)

Amid the school closures due to COVID-19, a teacher in Waconia is teaming up with an area business to help give his students a hands-on learning experience.

Waconia High School Industrial Arts teacher Dave Aeling briefly welcomed back his woodworking students this week and then sent them home with equipment for a project to enhance their distance learning experience.

“This is a first,” said Aeling. "There’s no question about it.”
His beginner class' assignment is to make a jewelry box, while his advanced students will tackle a bi-plane model. Minimal tools are needed. The projects already have the wood cut and packaged in a ready-to-go kit. It’ll be up to the high schoolers to put them together and either paint or stain the finished product.
Aeling plans to grade from photos the kids will eventually submit to keep the face-to-face contact to a minimum.
“It’s going to allow kids to be able to unplug from the computer for a little while and actually have a semi-authentic project like they would do in class to build,” he said.

“It’s pretty unique because obviously, you can’t go into school and do something,” said Andrew Schwob, a Waconia High School sophomore. “It’s nice to do something at home because we’re pretty bored.”
This particular high school project wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Modern Design Cabinetry in nearby Cologne. That’s where the wood was cut and the kits were assembled. Owners Troy and Jo Eiden donated everything, so the students could really work with their hands away from the school’s industrial arts center.
“We started brainstorming you know, what can we do to help these kids who are trying to do a woods or metal project from home and they don’t have access to any of the machinery or tools, or any of that,” said Jo Eiden.

The Eidens say they try to have a strong relationship with Waconia High School and the shop program because it’s training their future workforce.
“We try to educate the kids that there are really neat jobs in the trades out there for them,” said Jo Eiden.
They say they’ve several employees over the years straight out of Aeling’s classes, creating somewhat of a woodworking pipeline.

This year’s crop of students are now on the clock with their new assignments.

“We’ve just been going over tools and stuff, like online,” said Griffin Schneider, a Waconia High School sophomore. “Now we’ve got this so we can get this together. Be fun to do.”