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CRANKIN Engine Curriculum: Lawnmover/Small Engine Hands-On Course Review by Jennifer Miller


"This four stroke internal combustion engine curriculum is an applied science. I designed it for students with varied learning styles so they could explore engines and simple mechanical principles economically." - Rankin Barnes

Rankin Barnes, the author of the CRANKIN Engine Curriculum: Lawnmover/Small Engine Hands-On Course, has 32 years experience teaching Automotive Technology under his belt at both state and community colleges. He was also on the receiving end of the Presidents Award for Teaching Innovation and the Excellence in Teaching Award. The CRANKIN Engine Curriculum: Lawnmover/Small Engine Hands-On Course includes a binder filled with over an inch of printed lessons, tests, and a flash drive for $150.00. A CRANKIN Special Tool Kit can either be purchased for $65.00 or obtained elsewhere. Ours was included for review purposes. (More on this below.) An engine is a required resource for the class, and tips for locating one are also included. The flash drive includes all of the video lessons. We obtained the actual engine from a local lawnmower shop. It is designed as an 11 week high school level course, but the material can be covered at a faster or slower pace depending on the student’s personal needs.

The CRANKIN Special Tool Kit includes:

Stubby Screwdriver

6” # 2 Phillips Screwdriver

Plastic fishing lure box

Automotive valve stem (core removed)

Spark plug wrench

1/4” Socket Set ¼, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, ½” sockets

Feeler gauge set

6” Copper wire 14 gauge

Rubber stopper

Piston Ring Compressor

1” X12” strip of 150 grit emery cloth

Gasket scrapers

Details are included in the course for student use of all the above tools. Before each lesson, shop safety practice is provided for new tools as well as reminders of previous safety tips.

At the beginning of each lesson, there is a page for the teacher which includes the objective for the lesson. A power point presentation including embedded videos and relevant pictures accompanies almost every lesson. Comprehensive lessons cover how each specific tool and engine part works so that it functions smoothly as a whole. It covers care such as how to clean gasket surfaces or spilled oil and organizing parts as they are removed. Reinstalling each part is easy by following the precise descriptive instructions. At the end of each lesson, a fill-in-the-blank style worksheet. Students are also guided in drawing specific components of the engine.

The lessons include a very descriptive page on shop safety every time you begin a new lesson. It has an easy to understand paragraph for each thing you need to do such as how to take a part off of the engine. After each lesson it has a helpful test which helps you remember how each part works, and how to put in on later. There is also an overview of what was covered in that lesson. An answer key is provided for each set of questions. The videos are amateur in nature, but still completely sufficient for demonstrating these lessons. Each video clearly shows exactly what is described for the student to try with their own engine.

This course is a perfect way for homeschooled students to learn all about engine repair. My son enjoyed and enthusiastically participated in each lesson. When I heard him voluntarily say "this is how I will organize" as he described the recommended method for storing bolts removed from the engine using cardboard and labels, I was completely won over. He was able to show me what he learned including the appropriate terms as he demonstrated each lesson to me using his tool set and engine. I recommend this course and would personally purchase additional courses prepared by this company because of the scope of the material covered. This method of learning is effective!

The CRANKIN Engines website has additional information both for students and for instructors.

-Product review by Jennifer Miller, The Old Schoolhouse®, LLC, June, 2017