A group of Sag Harbor students will soon use a high-tech machine to bring their designs to life, thanks to their technology education teacher.
Edward Moloney, 54, who teaches at Pierson Middle-High School in the Sag Harbor school district, won a $18,860 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation, as part of its effort to fund projects created by innovative teachers.
The district will use the grant money to buy a computer numerical control machine. Using a computer-aided drawing program, students can create their own designs, and the CNC machine carves pieces of the design out of a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum and plastic.
The students then assemble the carved pieces to form their creations, which could be anything from furniture to games, puzzles and objects for school plays.
“I try to learn about my students — what they like and what excites them — and I try to take that and tie it back to a project in technology,” Moloney said.
Middle school students will use the machine primarily for simple projects, like signs, while high school students will work on more complex efforts, such as building furniture from parts the CNC machine cuts out.
Before becoming a teacher about 10 years ago, Moloney was a project manager at Intel Corp. for 20 years. Moloney, who comes from a family of teachers, started his position at Pierson in the fall.
One of the first projects to come out of the grant will be furniture for the school. High school students will design and build a convertible bench for the building. Students will be able to create more benches if and when they are needed by the school, Moloney said. Eventually, students may also create furniture and toys to be used in a community center.
Students will also be able to connect the technology with their interests. For instance, students “can draw and design longboards and skateboards on the computer, and then we can cut them out on the CNC machine and [they can] have a real sense of pride,” Moloney said.
John Anderson, president of Toshiba America Foundation, said Moloney “had a very good project that stood out among the applicants,” and that the furniture and toys that the students will build can have a positive effect on the Sag Harbor community.
School principal Jeff Nichols said Moloney, in getting the grant, “spoke to the need for the machine and how it’d enhance the learning environment here at Pierson.”
Reed Kelsey, an eighth-grader from Sag Harbor, said he plans to use the machine to make wooden presents for his family, including a shelf in the shape of a boat for his father.
“I’m very excited to get this machine and be able to work with it, to make new projects and have new chances we couldn’t before with old machinery,” said Kelsey, 13.
Students will be able to use the machine as soon as this spring.