October, 2017

Oak Creek Students Learn Hard and Soft Skills on Paver Project

From: Marcia Latta and Roger Snell

Oak Creek students recently completed a walkway project that required learning and applying new vocational, math and soft skills. The new walkway connects the garden sheds near the greenhouse to the main path. It is made of concrete pavers that had to be placed by hand.
“We spent a week in August learning how to lay brickwork, including the preparation and leveling, applied math, etc. It is impressive,” said Principal Joy Koenig. “Students learned vocational education skills that they will be able to take with them and apply when they look for employment – either as supplemental income during school or to help them find living-wage jobs.”
The project started in August and was completed in late September. It included eight students, who cleared and leveled the ground, measured the area, set the bricks and swept sand between the bricks to set and compact them.
It was a trial and error process for the students and for instructor Roger Snell, who was also a first-time bricklayer. “We learned the skills and then applied them. Sometimes we had to make corrections, tear out the work and start over,” he said. “It was frustrating for some of the students, but it’s part of the process, and it was a good way to learn patience and resilience.”
The students used a variety of hand tools, including rakes, shovels, screed boards, levels, line levels, mallets, tampers and brooms. They also learned to use power tools, including a water-cooled brick saw, small excavator, forklift, tractor with bucket, and compactor.
From start to finish, the students participated in the following processes:
Excavating the area where walkway was placed.
Placing a three-inch layer of three inch or less gravel on top of the smoothed-out excavated area.
Using a gas-powered compacter to set the base.
Staking backer board (heavy plastic boarders to hold brick in place).
Adding one-inch coarse sand on top of the compacted gravel base.
Smoothing out a one-inch sand layer on top of the compacted gravel base.
Setting the brick.
Measuring and leveling while placing the brick.
Placing fine sand on top of the finished walkway.
Sweeping in fine sand.
Running the compactor over the finished walkway.
Landscaping the area around the walkway.
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