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Oregon schools adopt teamwork class settings

Marshfield manufacturing technologies teacher Glenn Crook shows the nearly-finished jig that will soon be used to help mass produce tables for the district.

COOS BAY — The days of having your own desk in a classroom are ending.

Educators across the state are pushing for more teamwork class settings, where the individual desks are being traded in for tables.

“Education is going into more of a cooperative learning base, so our teachers have wanted more tables in their classrooms,” said Marshfield High School Principal Travis Howard. “Having tables instead of desks lets kids work together, learn from one another, and is a lot more conducive in projects. The kids seem to love it.”

When teachers began requesting tables to replace the desks earlier this year, the district purchased two sets of tables that cost $4,000 to $5,000 per set. Because they were made out of particle board, they didn’t hold up well.

Toward the end of last school year, Howard had approached Marshfield’s manufacturing technologies teacher Glen Crook to see if the district could make its own tables instead.

“I asked him and our woodworking teacher if we could do a joint project to come up with a template and cost it out,” Howard said. “The whole thing would be an entry-level project for both programs. They put it together over the summer and showed a finished product where they had sanded down the tops and then finished them in manufacturing. Manufacturing also designed the table structure and cut out the design on the end.”

Cost-wise, the materials are under $100. The goal is to make one table a week but have been set back by complications in the jig over at manufacturing, which is used to help students create the frame for each table.

“We were almost done with the jig but there was a piece of steel that had a bend to it, so when we went to weld it didn’t line up,” Crook said, but said that the new one is almost complete and will be simple enough to use that “students don’t even need to know what they’re doing.”

“As soon as it’s done, we can start mass producing these things,” Crook said. “The nice thing about doing the new tables is they will be a lot stronger so they should last longer. Even if students wear out the table top, the frame will last. Worst case scenario, the tables go back to woodshop for repairs. If the frame does break, it is a steel students are used to working with so they can fix them as well.”

Once the new jig is finished, the first set of 10 will be made for Marshfield’s Advanced Via Individual Determiantion (AVID) classroom, which is a program meant to keep students from dropping out of school. The program at Marshfield even received $15,000 in grant money from Nike last May.

“Making these tables in-house is great because before this we just didn’t have good furniture in the district,” Howard said. “Now we will.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.