A metal sculpture of a space shuttle

The metal art sculpture created by Aaron Woolum’s welding class. Submitted photo

Engaging students at the end of the semester can be a difficult task.

“Students get burnt out, and I just wanted to create a way for them to do their own thing with everything they’ve learned in my class,” said Aaron Woolum, a teacher at the Russell Area Technology Center.

Nine seniors in Woolum’s welding class completed a metal art sculpture that will soon travel to Washington, D.C.

The idea of sculpting artwork pieces out of metal was one way he kept his students involved and allowed a space for their creativity shine.

“We entered our sculpture under the community service project category, and we brainstormed how to represent the theme using metal art,” said Woolum.

Woolum said the nine students decided on their own to participate in the Daughters of the American Revolution competition, a national art contest in which students competed against local chapters from across the nation.

This year’s competition theme was “Sparkling in the Stars: Celebrating 50 Years of the Space Shuttle Program.” Woolum said students drew sketches on the chalkboard and decided to build a scale model of the space shuttle.

The sculpture includes items representing shooting stars, the moon and the American flag. Each element was built with various materials such as stainless steel and old pieces of metal pipe.

“We used stainless because of the way it oxidizes with the heat. If you clean it well, it turns pink with the heat. We then took a wire brush on a Dremel tool to clean it up, giving us a detailed American flag on top,” said Woolum.

Their sculpture, which won first place at district, regional and national competitions, will be permanently displayed at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum. Its journey to the nation’s capital starts June 27.

Woolum said he is proud of his students and their achievements, considering everything these students had on their plate in addition to this project.

“We had other projects going on and students working on their welding certifications to complete this program,” said Woolum. “Some of these students are football players, band members and have other obligations inside and outside of my program.”

Woolum said his students encouraged him to make this an annual competition for the welding class.

“I’m constantly giving my criteria and holding them to my expectations, but they said one thing they liked about having this competition was having criteria and expectations from an external source outside of the school,” said Woolum.