Case Study – In School

“The kids hardly know that they are learning.” — Chris De Firmian

Chris De Firmian – Ukiah High School, Ukiah CA


Teacher:  Chris De Firmian

School: Ukiah High School, Ukiah, CA

Grades: 6 & 7

Projects:  Cigar Box Guitars (download Instructor’s Guide), Bevin’s Skiff


Chris De Firmian has been building boats for many years, but he was excited when he attended a Building to Teach session in 2012 on how to add a teaching component into his work with teens and pre-teens. Now, he found out how to teach math fundamentals while the students also experienced the achievement of completing a project.


De Firmian works through several public schools in Ukiah, CA, where he is now integrating math concepts into his program, with the techniques learned from attending Joe Youcha’s Building to Teach at a Small Boat Alliance conference in Washington State.


“It had never dawned on me,” he says. “It really enlightened me on how these different lessons could be combined. The kids hardly know that they are learning. They think they are building boats, but they are learning math. It’s really a disguised math class.”


De Firmian has now built more than 25 boats with kids using techniques that he learned from Youcha.