Recycling and Reusing at Forefront of High School Project
In Timothy Zavacki's Wood Technology One class, an upcoming project has students repurposing old furniture.
The chairs from the Hillsborough High School Library have been glued back together and held together with screws, nails and an assortment of other building materials. And, after ten years, they’re finding a new purpose that’s not in a landfill.
That’s because Timothy Zavacki, the school’s industrial technology teacher, has his students dismantling the chairs and re-assembling them as stools that can then be used at school or at home.
“These chairs have been repaired numerous times,” Zavacki said. “They just can’t be repaired any more. They’ve seen a thousand people sitting in them and they’re just tired.”
The school’s Media Specialists approached Zavacki after realizing the chairs would need to be replaced, to ask whether he could used them in his classes as either spare lumber or for other projects, he said.
“I’m really big into reusing and recycling and repurposing,” he said of his decision to take the chairs. “I did some research and figured out, let’s make a stool out of it.”
Additional research led him to what’s known as a librarian’s stool, which has four legs and a handle that allows the user to easily pick up the stool and move it. More importantly, the stool design worked with the chairs—by removing the seat bottom, seat apron and shortening the legs, the students could create the stools.
“Remarkably, it is a lot stronger than I thought,” Zavacki said. “It’s just a smaller version of the chair.”
Zavacki expects to have the students in his Wood Technology One class begin making the stools within two weeks; since the first part of the project involves dismantling the chairs. In addition, the students learned about furniture construction while taking the chairs apart, he said.
“I try to find ways to teach the kids that you don’t have to go out and buy every thing,” he said. “The kids love taking the chairs apart because everyone loves the dismantling. At the same time, we talked about furniture design. It’s done for a reason. There is a reason that it is curved. There is a reason why it is so high off the ground. There is a reason why things are at an angle.”
“The kids should be able to look at something and know how it goes together and, at the same time, know how to fix it,” he added. “Kids don’t tinker anymore and that’s what I’m trying to teach them.”
Once the stools are complete, each student will be able to take a project home and Zavacki plans to give extra stools to the school library and to the school’s preschool program, he said. Those interested in further information about the project can email Zavacki at email@example.com
“If I didn’t (take them) the chairs would have been thrown away, which is sad,” Zavacki said. “I think the kids picked up that there’s more to a chair than you think, in terms of design and how they are held together.”