Read this first then go to  PROJECT SELECTION  

I am getting feedback, through friends, that those who have seen me at conferences think “The Parke System” is “overwhelming,” “scary,” and  “He can do it, but he is driven.”   You  should not think that way.   I realize students will be doing things that may be new to you, but do not let it scare you.   The manuals are very much self-directed and in some cases they even tell the teacher what to do.  It is all there.   It will require  time to get everything together and set up,  but after that is done you will like the system. 

My goal has not been to make money, but to help students and teachers.  Have I met that goal?  Teachers using the system have thanked me for making their life much easier.  This has happened many times.  In the same week, two teachers called to order supplies, and at the end of the call both thanked me for making their job easier.   A week before writing this page a teacher emailed me a question and closed the message saying he was “having a blast.”  That helps make up for not making money.

The point is not to brag, but to let you know using the system is something to look forward to, not something scary.


You would probably feel more comfortable if you had time to make all of the projects yourself, but that really is not needed.  There are two exceptions, the note tray and the game boxes, which are production units and the teacher has to set up the fixtures and train the students. 

What I suggest is having the materials, tools and manuals ready, then pick one of your better students to help you.  Tell  them you have a new unit you have not been through and need for them to go through it for you.  Tell them if they get to a step they do not understand, bring the manual to you and you will help them figure it out.  They rarely will come back, unless the manual tells them "see the teacher.  There are steps that tell them to "see the teacher," but that is usually something where the teacher needs to be there to be sure they do the operation safely.

After one student has been through a unit, start another on the unit. 

Will this work?  Many years ago a school was putting in the system and hired a young teacher just out of college.  The teacher knew nothing about the system, so the school approved expenses for him to come to my lab school and spend 5 days with me to learn about the system.  That was no problem for me since I planned on working in my office during that week.  He came into town on a Sunday night and Monday morning I showed him the location of the tools, materials, and manuals and told him  to work on whatever he wanted, if he had any questions come into my office.  At the end of the day he said, “I have all of the things I need at home, couldn't I do this at home and call you if I have a question.”  He went home on Tuesday and there were very few calls. That was many years ago and things have improved a lot since then, so it should be even easier now.

You have to put out some effort to start, but it is well worth it.  How do you get started?  That is why this page was written, to help you.

There are almost always two major limitations teachers have to consider, student class time and money.   You need to select the units that give the most for your money.  More about that later.


I have been told the system is relatively inexpensive, but it still takes money.  As you know, there are grants available.  Since I have never written one, I cannot help you.  The best thing to do is find someone who has written a successful grant and ask for their help.  They are usually willing to help, in some states required to help.  I have known of teachers that have basically copied someone else's grant and got their own approved to add the system.

A word of wisdom passed on to you from one of my college teachers.  Always have a list of things you would like to purchase, with up to date prices.   Ideally have purchase orders, up to date, ready to turn in.  I kind of laughed at the idea, but did keep a list with prices and sources.  Because of that list, on two occasions I was unexpectedly able to get some things I wanted, one time a machine lathe.  Another time when I stopped by the office at the end of the day to pick up my mail, the director of the school, called to me from his office.  He said, “Can you spend $600.00 in the next 45 minutes?”  I replied, “I will be right back.”  I went to my files, pulled out some papers and had them to him in a few minutes.


A second common limitation is student time.  There is more to teach than available time.  At the lab school where this was developed, we had 180 days per year.  The class periods were 55 minutes long.  In the fall semester we had the 7th grade, in the spring semester we had the 8th grade.  The 7th grade started in “Lines & Views” then they made the game set with the checkers, chessmen, board and the puzzle.

In the 8th grade we started in a book called “Using the Electron.”  This took 8 weeks, then they made the other projects, except the toolbox.  The toolbox was developed after I left the school and other units have been improved.  “Using the Electron” is not available.  I wish it were, but one person can only do so much.

Did every student complete everything?  No, I doubt if that will ever happen.   Over the years I have learned that if they are in grade 4, or college graduates, regardless of how much you assign, they need, “just a couple more weeks” to finish.   That statement is partly tongue in check, but you get the point.  In one of my college course, over a period of many years I varied the required amount of work and the story was always the same, they  needed just a couple more weeks to finish.



On most of the units this may not make much of a difference.  For instance, a lot of students can make the screwdriver by having extra molds and manuals and those are not major expenses.  A second drop forge is not needed, it can be used by a many students in the same period.

On the other hand one person will tie up the press brake for several days.    One school wanted to every student to make the toolbox.  There were 15 students in the class for 9 weeks.  No way could it be done with one press brake and an additional press brake is expensive.   This is more of a problem with the toolbox than any other of the units.  Most of these concerns are addressed by comments in the catalogue with each unit.

The more projects you have available the more students you can handle at one time.  This may seem to be obvious, but having 30 students working on 6 different projects at the same time is a lot different than having 30 students work on the screwdriver at one time.  The drop forge can handle a lot of students in one period, but 30 at a time would be ridiculous.

If you have any unanswered concerns on this issue please call, or email me.  I want to help you.


The toolbox is one of the most expensive in terms of special “Parke” tooling, especially when you consider how many students will be able to go through it in any given length of time.  A student working on the toolbox will tie up the press brake for 6 or 7 hours.  On the other hand the 4-IN-A-ROW costs much less initially and adding additional tooling and manuals for more students is minimal.

When you go to the "Project Selection" it directs you to fill in some worksheets.  If you are not "set" on certain projects, after filling in those sheets compare the different costs of projects that interest you


Since I do not handle all of the materials how much it costs to make each project is a question I am unable to answer.  Several years ago I thought a survey of what the users charged the students would be a good idea.  There was so much variation from teacher to teacher the survey results were useless.

Cost depends on where the teachers get the materials.  For instance, one school has a source that gives them all of the veneer they need.  At another school a company gives them all of the sheet metal they need, so about the only material cost for the tool box is paint and some rod.  Even the price for the paint can vary greatly.  Some buy it at Wal Mart, or Kmart very inexpensively, while others buy it elsewhere at a much higher price.


There are numerous variations.  The teacher at one school likes the games, but has limited time, so they make only one game box with the glass and leather.  To go with the box they make checkers, checker holder, checker board, puzzle and the 4-IN-A-ROW game.

At another school they do not make the stand for the yard sign.   They make two top scrolls and use the second scroll underneath the sign.  The sign is to be mounted on a wall, or fence.



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