Beginning Guide to Metals

A machining business gave young people visiting the shop a set of blocks made from various metals to help them understand the work of manufacturing, and the knowledge of materials that manufacturers put to use.

Richard Malek, president of Tech-Max Machine (the shop featured in this article), periodically hosts a local group of Cub Scouts at his facility. The kids (third through fifth grade) are given the chance to learn about manufacturing in the hope that some of them might picture themselves doing this work in the future. For these visits, Mr. Malek devises displays and object lessons to help the kids experience what manufacturing is all about.

To prepare for one such visit, he had his shop machine blocks from various different metals—aluminum, bronze, steel, titanium and others—so that he could give a set of the blocks to each of the kids to take home. The insight he wanted to convey is that metals have very different properties, and that manufacturers master these properties so they can choose the right metal for the need at hand and work with that material in the right way. The different appearances and hefts of the different blocks helped make this lesson tangible.

Each scout also received a basic one-page guide to these different metals written by Mr. Malek. Download a PDF version.

(The shop president says he also expects to host a group of sixth- through eighth-grade Boy Scouts later this spring. He is in the process now of thinking about the best way to engage this older group.)