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Kimball's industrial tech program offers unique learning opportunities

KIMBALL -- Students enrolled in Dale Taylor's industrial technology classes can expect to get hands-on learning in a variety of subjects. And they can expect to do so with state-of-the-art equipment the Kimball School District staff feels is unpr...

Kimball School District Industrial Technology Teacher Dale Taylor stands in a house his students are building and will sell in June. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Kimball School District Industrial Technology Teacher Dale Taylor stands in a house his students are building and will sell in June. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

KIMBALL - Students enrolled in Dale Taylor's industrial technology classes can expect to get hands-on learning in a variety of subjects.

And they can expect to do so with state-of-the-art equipment the Kimball School District staff feels is unprecedented for rural South Dakota schools.

Taylor's classroom is equipped with various woodworking tools, but maybe most notable is the trio of 3-D printers, laser-etching machines and flight simulators, all of which students utilize daily to enhance their knowledge of engineering and manufacturing technology.

Most of the equipment isn't new, with most having been purchased between two and 10 years ago, but Taylor recently added add to the already lengthy list of equipment. Taylor recently purchased and received a 3-D scanner and robotics kit, which were still sitting in their respective boxes Thursday afternoon, waiting to be opened.

"It's going to be awesome," Taylor said Thursday. "Not all schools get to offer programs like what we do in Kimball, so it's a real testament to our commitment to students and being progressive as industries change and evolve - we'll do it, too."

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Students learn how to run each machine, also learning various coding programs and design elements. Then, they are able to operate the gear, which can create an assortment of items like gears, Legos, signs and more.

Though partially funded by the school and grants, most of the gadgetry in Taylor's classroom has been purchased from the sale of houses built by his students. The high school students are nearly finished with the 17th house built by the Kimball School District, with just painting, installation of cabinets and other "minor" details left to be completed. On average, the homes have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as this year's does, and the homes sell for approximately $70,000.

Students do the majority of the work on the houses, including the design, construction, wiring and building the cabinets and other structures for inside of the buildings.

And one of Taylor's favorites is now home to the district's superintendent, Jeff Rieckman, built two years ago. Rieckman's house sits across the street from the school and is the only one built on a foundation, rather than movable structures.

"They want to get in here and get their hands dirty-something a little different than what they do the rest of the day," Taylor said. "But it's real-life stuff, and even if they don't go into the manufacturing field, they'll be able to do small stuff around their own homes and be self-reliant in the future."

For Taylor, watching students grow both in their skills and as people keeps him in the business. The 28-year veteran of the district said it's obvious as students progress throughout their high school careers that they are proud of their achievements in his classroom and when they leave, they're equipped with skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

"Kids come in here and they don't think they'll ever be able to do the things we do in here," Taylor said. "Then they do it and you can tell it just makes them feel so good. That's the best part."

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