ROD-MAKING PUTS STUDENTS' MATH SKILLS TO TEST
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
An algebra book in a fishing tackle box looks as out of place as an igloo in the Sahara Desert.
Algebra, however, plays an important role in the success anglers experience, as high school students in La Grande and Island City are discovering while learning the art of making fishing poles.
A major part of the process involves determining where guides, also called eyes, should be placed on rods. Guides are important because of the support they provide. The length and flexibility of a rod are among the many factors that must be considered when determining where eyes are needed.
"It involves math skills because algebraic applications are needed to determine the specific number of eyes needed,'' said La Grande High School agriculture teacher Paul Anderes.
Anderes and Doug Schow, a teacher at the Union-Baker Education Service District's alternative school in Island City, have been having their students make fishing rods this year. Anderes and Schow have been impressed with the response of their students.
"It was incredible to see their reaction,'' Anderes said.
Some students were so taken by the process that it was hard to get them to return to their book work.
"It was difficult to get them into studying again because they were so interested in doing it (making rods),'' Anderes said.
Making rods has proved popular despite the fact that it is a painstaking process.
"It takes a lot of patience,'' Anderes said.
The hardest task is tying guides to each rod with thread.
La Grande High School senior Josi Kelly agrees that the process is painstaking. There is no margin for error.
"If you make a mistake you have to start over,'' she said.
Once the thread is attached, an epoxy finish is applied to protect it. The rods are then put on a machine that circulates them to help dry the epoxy finish.
Some of the rods have artistic flair because students use colorful thread. One student has created a rainbow look because of the type of thread used.
Anderes and Schow have been assisted by three companies that have provided supplies at significant discounts: Angler's Workshop of Woodland, Wash., Lamiglass of Battleground, Wash., and D&E Rods of Battleground.
Anderes took his students on a tour of D&E Rods earlier this year. The company makes all of its rods by hand. Some people at the company can make make dozens of rods an hour, Anderes said.
"It was amazing to see them,'' Anderes said.