Oklahoma teachers to integrate guitar building into the classroom

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The smooth sounds of the guitar are guiding some metro students into the S.T.E.M. world - science, technology, engineering and math.

After all, who doesn't want to be a rock star?

"Just trying to get that close right now,” said one Oklahoma City teacher.

The building blocks to learning…

"There's about 150 lbs of pressure on that bridge,” said another Oklahoma City teacher.

... all come into play when building an electric guitar for these teachers.

"I drilled through the back of my guitar, so not something you want to do but…” said Mike Jennings, employee with Capitol Hill High School Academy of Engineering.

Teachers from metro middle and high schools are fine tuning their custom-made guitar, completed after a five-day workshop.

Even instructors from a Kansas community college and Tennessee university came to Oklahoma for the week-long class.

Ironically, science and technology is coming to life through the art-form.

"We're using the building of the guitar as a tension tool to get science, technology, engineering and math into the classroom,” said STEM Guitar Project Trainer Dave Parker. "We've been around for 10 years and, each year, we've had 10 to 15 percent growth in the number of students that build guitars."

Striking a chord with students to learn how to actually play the instrument they built.

"Roughly half the students who build the guitars don't know how to play, maybe even more than that. So, they build a guitar, they get this tremendous sense of pride in this gorgeous instrument that they've made and then they want to be able to do something with it."

And, the whole project was sparked by a suggestion from a Capitol Hill High School employee

"We were doing this tour at progressive sampling, and they had a metal guitar on the wall," Jennings said. "They kids looked at the guitar and were immediately 'let's do a project based on a guitar.'"

Giving music a new level of respect for those who make it.

STEM Guitar Project is funded through the National Science Foundation.

It costs $200 for each guitar kit, and the teachers are hoping to get help from the community to fund it for their classroom.

The hope is that the students will be able to keep the guitar. For more information, visit guitarbuilding.org.

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