Back in the 70’s I taught a high school design class for which the prerequisites were two years of mechanical

drawing and one semester each of wood shop and metal shop. The students in this design class would have limited access to both wood and the metal shop. I would present one problem at a time along with a list of specifications and performance criteria. In the years I taught this class I never gave the same problem twice. The number of problems given in any one year varied between four and ten. One problem that I remember fondly was a rubber band gun.

I know, I know! Today, instructing kids to design and fabricate a weapon, of any sort and however benign, in a school setting would generate headlines, likely result in loss of career and mandate counseling. But, forty years ago things were different: boys carried pocket knives, nurses could dispense aspirin to students, kids could be given failing grades, and not everyone who participated in a sports event had to be given a trophy.

Since most kids knew, perhaps instinctively, how to make a rubber band gun, I had to up the ante a bit. The gun (device) had to shoot (launch) multiple bands sequentially, not simultaneously. And there had to be a safety. Pictured here is one student’s solution to the problem. I’ll let it speak for itself. So what does this story have to do with timber framing? Nothing at all. Everything.

– Tony Zaya

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