Students are using the new sewing machines at Skaneateles Middle School in a way that is enterprising, educational and thrifty all at once.
Students are “sewing for science,” thanks to an idea from Margaret Culkowski, curriculum coordinator for math, science and technology.
When Dr. Culkowski realized that teacher Lisa Kerr needed more microscope covers for her seventh-grade life science classroom, she first looked for covers online. She found that simple covers were relatively expensive, even for quality that wasn’t that great.
“They weren’t even what we wanted,” said Culkowski. “I thought they might be relatively easy to make – and I knew we had the machines.”
Culkowski approached family and consumer science teacher Colleen O’Hara, who was delighted to help. After Culkowski purchased the clear vinyl that was exactly what she wanted, O’Hara and student volunteers from her family and consumer science class set to work.
They used patterns (made by O’Hara from the existing old covers) to carefully draw outlines onto the vinyl before cutting it and moving over to the sewing machines.
“I love doing projects that involve other departments in the school,” O’Hara said. “It shows how versatile the machines can be … and that every department can benefit from them.”
Devin Shon, a seventh-grader, was one of the volunteers. He said he was helping out “because I want to learn to sew.”
Students made 10 replacement covers for the microscopes so Kerr could throw out the old ones, which had naturally dried out and cracked over time. And, there is more vinyl for when more are needed. Culkowski estimated that 10 covers were made, with material left over, for the price of just one pre-made cover.
“We are always trying to get quality things for good prices. It is a way of life around here. This is just one example,” said Culkowski.
O’Hara said it is also just one example of the variety of creative ways the machines have been used since they were purchased in 2012 with a grant from the Skaneateles Education Foundation. The initial grant was titled “Stitching Together Math, History and Consumer Sciences” and involves students with hands-on measurements and calculations while researching and designing period clothing.