By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Leslie Yale, Rock Star
Build an electric guitar to understand science, technology and engineering. That’s how Leslie Yale, member of the South Humboldt Teachers Association, achieves rock star status when it comes to finding new ways of getting students intrigued about physics and chemistry at South Fork High School in Miranda.
“By building a guitar with me, they will be able to take what they have learned in the classroom about sound waves, electricity, motion, velocity and math, and apply that to the real world,” says Yale. “It will be a pretty good bonding exercise, too.”
She took a workshop on how to build electric guitars and use them as teaching tools last summer at the College of the Redwoods in Fortuna. (For more information, visit www.guitarbuilding.org
.) Working from instructions in a guitar-building kit, Yale built an electric guitar from scratch during the weeklong session. She plans to build another guitar with students in an after-school science enrichment program.
Yale says the experience of guitar-building was intense. “It put me in the position of thinking like a student in the classroom.” Building a guitar requires using a drill press and lathe, plus soldering and computer-aided design (CAD).
“I have remodeled a bathroom and fixed up things around the house, but this challenged me beyond my comfort level,” she says. “At first I felt that it was beyond my capacity, but I achieved my goal because I believed in myself.”
Yale and other teachers in the workshop collaborated on lesson plans to incorporate math, chemistry, physics and science lessons with guitar-building. They continue to share their lesson plans and results with students online.
Now that Yale has built a guitar, does she know how to play it? Afraid not.
“My son plays very well,” she says. “And he says my guitar sounds beautiful.”