- Sponsorship -

Sound Engineers

Students Learn Science Through Making Music

Though his rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” was a bit ding-y, Lee High School senior Scott Peuler looked pleased with himself as he finished the tune by hitting glass bottles filled with different levels of water with a miniature drumstick.

Nursery rhymes were the ditties of the day in teacher Steve Feutz’s engineering class, as students demonstrated the connections between engineering and sound. Senior Israel Hernandez strummed “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on a tiny harp made with wood and rubber bands. Sophomore Jennifer Pablo, juniors Paul Villarreal, Maura Mendoza and Adriana Sanchez and senior Betty Almanzo played “Hot Cross Buns” on a xylophone-inspired percussion instrument made of Pringles cans and cardboard.

Students combined innovation, precision – and a little Mother Goose – to make instruments that created different pitches and notes for the latest project in the class, which started this school year. Feutz, who has taught math for five years, has undergraduate degrees in aerospace engineering and music theory, so fitting a music-themed project into the class was natural.

“Music is my biggest passion, then engineering, math and science,” said Feutz, who sings and plays trumpet and piano.

Physics is involved in how sound is created, he noted. Students experimented by using household objects turned into instruments. “There’s four different instrument groups and they all sound a little different,” he said.

Junior Jeffrey Anderson plays his pan flute, made of straws and tape

Music, Mechanics, Electronics and Flight

The class touches on many types of engineering, giving students an idea of skills needed in the local workforce. The demand for engineers and designers in manufacturing outstrips supply by at least double, according to the West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook report, published in September 2016. This is largely due to a shortage of graduates needed to fill vacancies for industrial and electrical engineers.

“My whole goal is to teach them what engineers do and how they do it,” Feutz said. His students learn to follow an engineering design process: come up with an idea, build, test, and improve if necessary.

Every project touches on a different branch of engineering. Students studied aerospace by designing cardboard gliders with egg containers and launching them off the school’s football stadium press box. They studied electrical engineering by creating gadgets that involve circuitry, remote controls, trains and other inventions.

They also built wooden cabinets into existing tables, now in classroom use, and spaghetti bridges, with one group of students competing in the Ferris State University Spaghetti Bridge Competition in March.

“I’ve liked being introduced to different types of engineering,” said Israel Hernandez, demonstrating how his harp strings make lower sounds depending on how taut the rubber bands are pulled. “We’ve done stuff with electricity and wiring – basic stuff – but it was cool to learn. This class gave me an interest in civil engineering.”

Paul Villarreal said he enjoys having the chance to make things by hand. “It helps you learn the basics of what you need to put something together. It takes math to different levels and puts it all together.”

“I’ve done things in this class I haven’t done in any other class,” added Scott Peuler.

The class started as a trimester course, but because of student interest was expanded to include Engineering A B and C, allowing the option for a full year of engineering.

It’s great for students who like to tinker and spend their time making things, Feutz said.

“It’s cool to see kids who don’t like the traditional classroom model, who really like being able to do hands-on things and build,” he added. “They essentially make a mess of the classroom, make something out of it, and make it their own.”


Ferris State Spaghetti Bridge Competition

West Michigan Talent Assessment and Outlook

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...

Virtual job-shadow opportunities available

Groundhog Shadow Day, which gives area students an inside look at different careers, is going virtual this year...

‘Hope on the horizon’ as local teachers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

Lincoln School special education teacher, Ann Post believes there is 'hope on the horizon' for Kent ISD teachers and educators across Kent County after receiving her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Satellite library aims to boost reading for the fun of it

The Kent District Library location opened this week, and is exclusively for East Lee Campus students and their families...

Voters approve bond request by 2-to-1 margin

The approval of the $17.79 million bond will restore and renovate Lee Middle and High School, which was badly damaged by a June 2019 roof collapse...

District bond request Nov. 3 includes upgrades, additions and community wellness & resource center

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools is asking voters to approve a 30-year, $17.79 million bond proposal to fund major reconstruction, additions and improvements to Lee Middle and High School...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU