Construction creativity

MHS students get hands-on experience in residential construction

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Marshalltown High School Construction Technology II classmates Jorge Andrade and Adrián Nuñez are one of several groups working on miniature-scale residential construction projects. Just like all the other class projects, their cabin-style structure is on a scale of 1 inch to 1 foot.

In the lower level of Marshalltown High School, several full residential projects are currently under way.

They’re miniature in scale, of course, but students in instructor Larry Kadner’s Construction Technology II class are learning how houses and garages are drawn up and put together.

“[The project] is designed to teach students the component parts that go into residential construction, like building a house or a garage,” Kadner said. “They’re doing that on a miniature scale right now, and when we’re done with this, we’re probably going to build a small utility shed and put it up for sale.”

The students have been working on their projects for about a month, and Kadner estimates the structures will be completed in about three weeks, in part due to spring break.

“Right now the kids have the walls and the windows and door openings built, and you can see the inner structure,” he said. “Some of them are putting rafters up.”

The students showed enthusiasm when describing their works.

“Ours is a small garage,” said student David Nogueda as he and project partner Bailey Weaver worked on the garage’s foundation structure. A partially-finished roof for the garage sat nearby.

Class pair Jorge Andrade and Adrián Nuñez said they had taken construction technology classes before, but had never made a miniature-scale residential structure. Both said they were excited to be working on the small cabin beginning to take shape.

Additionally, Kadner said he has further motivated the students with the possibility of a reward.

“I gave them a little incentive,” he said. “I’m going to have some teachers come and judge the houses when they’re done, and the group that wins will get a $25 gift certificate to the pizza place of their choice.”

During his initial 20-year tenure at MHS teaching construction technology, Kadner said he often had students do similar projects, and also oversaw students working on community projects. Since coming out of retirement to teach the class once more, he said the upcoming utility shed may be followed by more projects, including one at Marshalltown Community College.

“We have a small project that is in the wings to go out to the college and build some type of a shelter in the soccer complex,” he said. “If I’m here next year, we may get involved with a bigger project out in the community.”

Such a project may include renovating an old house or converting a car- or damaged travel trailer into a tiny home.

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