A new and exciting collaboration between Museum and School will replace decaying trail signs for the Museum’s Land Trust through the purchase and use of a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, a sophisticated router tool for students to make new wood signs for the Museum trails.
Many of the Land Trust signs have deteriorated over time and, while they could be remade with a hand router, results from a CNC machine will be programmable, and therefore more controllable and consistent. “This machine is like a 3D printer, but instead of building up material, this takes material away and can be used on wood and soft metal,” said Murray. The CNC router has been purchased by the Museum, is currently in transit and will be housed at the school.
The machine uses computer-aided design (CAD) software to design what is needed, then the computer is hooked up to the CNC machine and it cuts out what has been programmed. The signs will then need to be sanded, finished and sealed. Along the way, students will be assessing and addressing problems like how to get the letters to “pop.”
Apart from its intrinsic value of solving a need of the Museum, the CNC machine presents an excellent opportunity to problem-solve. “Everything on Fishers Island is unique, so the problem-solving students will undertake is also unique,” said Schneider. Students will be encouraged to think creatively and they’ll also be learning that it is OK to fail and go back to the drawing board with an idea. Moreover, students at the school have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a machine that few high schools can boast.