CALUMET - For Eric Rundman and the students in his metal shop class at Calumet High School, taking a good idea and making it their own is not only a good experience for them, but it also helps the community.
That good idea is a walker-like metal frame used to help very young children learn how to ice skate.
Rundman said his class began making the skating aids at the beginning of the school year in September.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Calumet High School students, from left, Mark Sandmon, Mike Hollenbeck and Adam Bryce demonstrate how the jig developed by the students in Eric Rundman’s metal shop class is used to bend electrical metal tubing used to make ice-skating aids for young children.
"We thought it was a good project for the community," he said.
The design they use is by the late Ray Berghefer of Laurium, Rundman said. The class took on the project after a parent asked if students could make the skating aids.
When he first saw the skating aid, Rundman said it look pretty straightforward and he thought it wouldn't be too difficult to build, but that changed once they started working.
"We found out it wasn't as easy as it looks," he said.
The devices are made from electrical metal tubing, Rundman said, and the students' first attempts to put in the various bends resulted in kinks and splits in the tubing.
"We couldn't get uniformity," he said.
To make the bends, Rundman said the students made a jig, but that initial attempt produced less than satisfactory results. With trial and error, a jig which produces clean bends without kinks and splits was developed.
Students also developed a jig for putting the skating aids together.
"It took us about half a year to get everything done," he said. "One thing led to another. I think we used just about every machine in the shop to get this thing done."
Rundman said there are several similar skating-aid devices on the market, but the design developed by Berghefer is the best he's seen. There are no sharp edges on it, and because it has a single complete tube on the bottom where contact with the ice is made, it can slide in any direction.
"It was an idea that had a lot of thought in it," he said.
The aids on the market cost $100 to $300, Rundman said, but those coming out of his shop are being sold for $25, with the school making $5 on each piece. Students have made eight devices so far, and he hopes they make 28 by the end of the school year.
Senior Adam Bryce said when he was a child learning to skate in the Ahmeek Ice Rink, he used one of Berghefer's original aids, so he is enjoying working on the new generation devices.
"I think it's a great project," he said. "It's kind of cool to have something to help the community."
Senior Mike Hollenbeck said he knows from experience how problematic less than adequate skate aids can be, so he's pleased to be working on the Berghefer-designed aids.
"We can help out kids who really want to learn to skate," he said. "I had to use a folding tray to learn."
Rundman said the students produced most of the ideas for the manufacturing of the skating aids, with much back and forth discussion of ideas.
"It came together through a collaboration of minds," he said. "It's something they learn more from their fellow students than they do from me."
For information about purchasing skating aids or donating material, call 337-0311 ext. 2203.
Kurt Hauglie can be reached at khauglie@ mininggazette.com.