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Student Assists Instructor in Introducing Hydraulics at Middle School

Curtin Middle School youngsters talk %E2%80%9Chydraulics%E2%80%9D with Paul A. Zenga, a diesel equipment technology%2Fheavy construction equipment instructor at Pennsylvania College of Technology, during a recent Brown Bag Lunch program.  From left are Katie Neece, Duta Hariandy, Devin Marty, Zenga, A.J. Baker and Mikale Guinter.A member of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Hydraulics Club recently helped one of his instructors with a lesson at Curtin Middle School in Williamsport.

Paul A. Zenga, a diesel equipment technology/heavy construction equipment faculty member in the college’s School of Natural Resources Management, had been teaching basic hydraulic lessons to students in grades six through eight for about four weeks as part of the middle school’s Brown Bag Lunch program.

“This has been an excellent way to not only communicate with the community, but at the same time, give the younger generation some knowledge about the big machines they see digging up their streets,” he said.

Zenga asked Zachary D. Ball, of Coal Center enrolled in the heavy construction equipment technology: Caterpillar equipment emphasis major at the college to assist him in teaching the Nov. 9 class because he was going over variable displacement pumps and needed an extra set of watchful eyes so he could allow the youngsters to take apart some pumps.

“Paul did a fabulous job for us, as he introduced students to how hydraulics works,” said Marcy McCann, instructional learning support teacher at Curtin. “It was a learning experience for his student to teach other students, too. This opportunity piques interest for students in future careers.”

The middle school pupils were enthusiastic and knowledgeable learners, Zenga noted.

Pennsylvania College of Technology student Zachary D. Ball supervises, from left, Curtin Middle School pupils Dylan Confair, Alex Knauth and Shawn McLeod.When the instructor began the class with a quick review, Ball could hardly believe that the schoolchildren not only could properly identify the five basic components of a hydraulic system, but that they also had a basic understanding of how each component operated.

“Despite the challenge of a younger gentleman telling Zach that he knew all there was to know about a hydraulic system, and asking to play chess instead during class time, Zach was able to rise to the occasion and involve the student with a hands-on activity,” Zenga said. “Even with this younger student’s purported knowledge of hydraulics, Zach was able to assist him and the rest of his group with the understanding of how to disassemble and assemble a hydraulic pump.”

“Zach was a big help and I think he learned a lot from this experience,” the faculty member added. “I wanted to be able to let the kids take things apart and, without his help, it probably wouldn’t have gone as smoothly.”

Curtin’s Brown Bag Lunch program is an enrichment opportunity to extend learning beyond the textbook and provide unique experiences for middle school students. Community members are invited to speak to the students, and Penn College and Lycoming College faculty members have visited to expose students to hands-on activities. Additionally, local author and historian Thad Meckley gave a tour of historic Brandon Park and Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana spoke about the Youth City Council.

For more information about the School of Natural Resources Management, visit online or call 570-320-8038. For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos by Marcy McCann, instructional learning support teacher at Curtin Middle School

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