It’s my hope that by conducting Skype sessions with outside experts, students can be inspired and be able to make better career decisions.  If you’d like to share your expertise, please contact Kurt Thonnings at


September 19, 2018:  Skype with WHS Engineering Students

Students from WHS gave short help sessions via Skype to 1st and 2nd period LBMS students concerning best practices when building scale models.

9-27-18 Skype with HS

January, 2018:  Skype with Marco Nivellini – Boeing 737 Pilot   See on YouTube

Mr. Vivellini, a pilot for United Airlines, volunteered to give the students of Mr. Thonnings 7th grade pre-engineering class a tour of a Boeing 737. He also talked about the need for new pilots and encouraged the students to consider it as a career.

September 13th, 2017: Skype with WHS Student Jill Eddy  See on YouTube

Making the connection from middle school to high school, 8th grade students from Lee Burneson Middle School’s Pre-Engineering class listened to Westlake High School junior Jill Eddy via Skype connection about her work on her award winning architecture project. The 8th graders have been working on their own ‘Tiny Home” architecture design project. Thanks Jill Eddy and WHS Technology Teacher Scott Kutz

September 2017:  Skype with WHS Student Katie Willi  See on YouTube

Making the connection from middle school to high school, 8th grade students from Lee Burneson Middle School listened to Westlake High School junior Katie Willie via Skype connection about her work on her award winning architecture project. The 8th graders have been working on their own ‘Tiny Home” architecture design project. Thanks Ms Willi and WHS Technology Teacher Scott Kutz

September, 2017: Skype with Greg Johnson of the Small House Society  See on YouTube

Mr. Thonnings’ 8th grade pre-engineering class was given a presentation on Tiny Homes via Skype from Greg Johnson of the Tiny House Society. Thanks to Mr. Johnson for his time and expertise. Students were working on their own Tiny Home designs and will be making scale models. Mr. Johnson’s speech led to great insight to design strategies, as well as the practicalities of Tiny Home living.

August 29th:  Skype with Q-Lab:  See on YouTube

LBMS Pre-engineering class skyped with Andy Francis of Q-Lab, who explained what his company does. Students just completed a short impact testing experiment before starting a tiny home design project. Q-Lab is a local, but global company that provides durability testing of materials for other companies. Thanks so much to Andy Francis for his time and expertise. See Q-lab at:

June 2nd, 2017:  LBMS Skypes with LCCC  See on YouTube

Students in Mr. Thonnings’ 8th grade pre-engineering class Skyped with Mr. Duncan Estep, director of Lorain Community College’s Alternative Energy/Electronics Engineering Technology program. Mr. Estep was on top of a wind turbine at Case Western Reserve University, giving the middle school students a tour of the turbine and answering questions

November 30, 2016: Skype with Melissa Hoadley of Vitagardens  See on YouTube

Seventh grade students in 3rd period pre-engineering class, listened to a presentation by a representative of Vitagardens of Canada, explaining their company philosophy, goals, and products.

January 16th, 2016: Skype with Arkin Tilt Architect Amanda Knowles  See on YouTube

In early December, 2015, 8th grade students of Mr. Thonnings’ pre-engineering class Skyped with Amanda Knowles of Arkin Tilt Architecture from Berkeley, California. Arkin Tilt is well known for it’s environmentally aligned and progressive design as well as for resource management and forward thinking alternative energy. Mr. Thonnings wanted his students to be exposed to this positive energy with the intent of challenging his ‘East coast’ students to approach solving design problems from an ‘earth-first,’ 7 generations out mindset.

November 17th, 2015: Skype with Cleveland’s Own Green City Growers  See on YouTube

LBMS pre-engineering students got a tour of the Cleveland based Evergreen company Green City Growers. Students were shown how the company grows various types of lettuce using hydroponics. The students were inspired by the company’s dedication to providing the local economy with environmentally friendly grown food, its focus and pride on serving the local community, and expertise workers must have to maintain the cooperative. Thanks to Mr. John McMicken for his willingness to conduct this virtual tour as well as his great knowledge and passion for what he does.  Find out more about this company:

May, 2015 Skype with NASA Glenn on the Junior Solar Sprint  See on YouTube

7th grade students from Lee Burneson Middle school had a video conference with NASA Engineers from Glenn Research Center on how to optimize their Junior Solar Sprint cars. The Junior Solar Sprint is a middle school activity from the NREL – National Renewable Energy Laboratory – that challenges students to design, build, test, and race model solar vehicles within constraints. The engineers from NASA proposed various ways to optimize cars through mechanical, electrical and solar manipulations and techniques. Thanks to the NASA staff that participated, especially Tim Krantz who put together the experts and Dave Mazza who was instrumental in getting the video conference coordinated. We here at LBMS are very grateful to all for your time and the sharing of your knowledge and wisdom. This type of conference brings to the classroom a great depth of experience not normally available to students. We hope by putting the video up online other schools will also be able to profit from the great tips and hints.

September 18: Skype with Jessica Dill – morning anchor WRDW- Channel 12 August,a Georgia

Students in the Zero Period (7:30 to 8:20 AM) Electronic Communications class skyped with Jessica Dill about her work as a TV anchor.

May 6th: Skype with Nir Pearlson – green architect of Eugene, Oregon See on YouTube

8th graders and Nir Pearlson, an architect in Oregon. Nir heads an award winning architecture firm that specializes in sustainable, small residences and businesses. His presentation focused on green design principles and their holistic approach to their River Road home. The kids got to ask questions about his work. This was at the end of our Tiny Solar Home project (see here).

February 11th: Skype with Rand Soellner of Home Architects in North Carolina  See on YouTube

On February 11th, 8th grade Pre-engineering Lee Burneson Middle School students in Ohio, listened and conversed with Rand Soellner of Home Architects in North Carolina about passive solar home design and construction. Eight grade LBMS students do a short activity called the Tiny Solar Home during which they have to design a 1000 sq ft or under passive solar home and then build a scale model of their home. Home Architects is a custom home architecture company and can be found at: Thanks to Rand Soellner for his time, willingness to share, and knowledge.

February 10th: GotoMeeting with Robotics Company

Short video conference with one of my 7th grade student’s parent, who owns a robotics company.  The company develops software that enables robots to see and recognize objects in order to intelligently manipulate them.

November 9th: Skype with Westlake High School Design Students  See on YouTube

Exchange of design ideas about similar design projects. High students were designing paper chairs and middle school students were designing paper towers.

October 25th: Skype with Ingenuity in Oregon on Aquaponics   See on YouTube

Eighth grade LBMS Pre-Engineering students held a Skype conference with the Ingenuity company from Oregon. Ingenuity did a presentation on Aquaponics to the students, showing the components and explained the science behind the concept. Students were attentive and had lots of questions at the end.  Great thanks goes to Ingenuity! They graciously helped us out and were more than accommodating, helpful, and knowledgeable

October 1st: Skype with Westlake High School Technology Students

Exchange of information. Several LBMS students presented their Passive Solar Home plans. WHS Technology students presented a few tips on model making

April 30th: Skype with Organic Transit of Durham, NC  See on YouTube

7th grade Lee Burneson Middle School pre-engineering students Skyped Organic Transit of Durham, North Carolina to find out about their velomobile they call the Elf. OT representative Alix Bowman gave the students a tour of their ‘factory’ and explained the design process as well as prototyping and obtaining funds to get the company going. The ELF – which is a hybrid between a bicycle and an electric car has solar panels on the roof, room for a bit of cargo and can go up to 25 mph. The kids were intrigued and had many questions. Discussions followed in all class ranging from engineering to environmental to future energy. Thanks Organic Transit for the great virtual tour!

Spring:Skype with Kent Roosevelt High School on their Tiny Home Project

Fall: Skype with HR Department of Hyland Software