Eyes on learning

Peter Salzano spent hours making time.

With an 80-page technical manual, soldering equipment and 150 tiny pieces, Salzano built a binary clock from scratch over several days.

“This is 10 times harder than the phone I made last year,” he said.

The phone and clock are year-end projects for students in robotics and electronics classes at Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center in south Everett.

Sno-Isle is a public school providing technical training to students from more than a dozen school districts. It is run by the Mukilteo School District.

Salzano predicts the clock will become a conversation piece because few visitors will know what they are looking at.

“I want to put it in my room and have people ask, ‘What’s that?’ and show off my knowledge,” said Salzano, who splits his school days between Sno-Isle and AIM High School in the Snohomish School District.

His device doesn’t look like a conventional clock. Instead of numbers, time is shown by lights and is computed with a mathematical code that is based on the power of two – or ones and zeros.

The binary system is used internally in computers.

Sno-Isle robotics and electronics teacher Karen Coulombe said she looks for projects that students will find challenging and different.

The binary clock is one of them.

“Students want to show they can use and apply their skills and this is unique to the geek, if you will,” she said.

Dylan Fenter, 17, a Snohomish High School senior, was building his clock last week a few feet away from Salzano in the Sno-Isle classroom.

He has wanted to become an electrician since he was a youngster.

He will keep his clock in plain view, too, and expects to field plenty of “What’s that?” questions.

He won’t get into the minute details, the technical names of parts he had to test to make sure they worked, the tools he used or how he read the schematics and identified all the components.

Mainly, he just likes the idea of getting to use more of his handiwork.

“The phone I made is hanging on my wall,” he said. “I use it all the time. Hey, I’ve got to use it. I made it.”

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or stevick@heraldnet.com.

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