The eighth-grade art, business and technology classes at Brownstown Central Middle School have teamed up for a project that will make any bird chirp.

Combining the skills of painting, marketing and building, more than 100 students are involved in the production and selling of birdhouses and birdfeeders.

Profits from the project will allow students to travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for a Junior Achievement Finance Park field trip, where they will learn how to budget their money and save some for the future.

The project started with Tom Wischmeier, who teaches Project Lead the Way, a required class at Brownstown in which eighth-graders apply science, technology, engineering and math.

He had some funding available, so he asked business teacher John Lawson and art teacher Jerry Brown about having their classes come together for the first time.

“It’s just the time of year where you are going to get more out of your kids if you can get them up and doing something versus keeping them in a seat for the last week right before (Christmas) break,” Wischmeier said. “We take some of that energy out on a project.”

The holiday break comes right in the middle of the second trimester.

For the first six weeks, some eighth-graders took Project Lead the Way, while others took Lawson’s personal finance, or Finance Park, class, which also is required.

When classes resume in January, Wischmeier and Lawson will trade students.

“It’s something good, I think, at this point in the year,” Lawson said of the project. “Everybody is ready for their vacation, and it keeps them focused and keeps them busy. A lot of them at this age, I don’t think they get the hands-on that (Wischmeier) has been able to give them.”

The three teachers combined different aspects of what they teach and related it to a real business, similar to how a factory would operate.

Wischmeier’s students do the design, engineering and manufacturing, Lawson’s class takes care of the marketing, sales and accounting and Brown’s students paint the final product.

Wischmeier said he chose birdhouses and birdfeeders after coming across a similar project on the internet. The design is simple, it doesn’t take much time and it’s affordable, he said.

The students used cedar pickets in assembling the birdhouses and birdfeeders, which have 10-inch sides and 8-inch ends and are 8 inches tall.

“I wanted it to be something they could design with the CAD program, Autodesk Inventor, and yet we could also come out here (in the wood workshop),” Wischmeier said. “It just fit the skill set of eighth-grade students both in the wood workshop and in the classroom.”

The teachers and students also discussed pricing levels. They are $5 for a basic birdhouse or birdfeeder with either a green or red painted roof and $7 for a themed model, choosing either Brownstown Central school colors or a winter, spring, summer or fall scene. For $3 more, they can be personalized with a name or short message.

Read the full story in Monday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.