After years spent building go karts, White, pictured above, was keen to keep his class of 10 students enthusiastic about the subject, and decided it was time for a change.
“Make the programs interesting - [it's as] simple as that. If it’s not interesting for them, they’ll switch off,” he explains.
“If I’m going to be enthusiastic about things, then it has to be interesting for me as well instead of same old.
"I’ve been doing Go Karts for nine years and I think they had run their course.
“And the competition that we had been entering [the Go Karts] in each year ceased to exist as well, so it was lacking enthusiasm from other schools.”
White began to look into alternative projects, and came across hovercrafts.
He says that initially, he wasn’t sure if the students would be interested.
“I showed the picture to them, thinking this would be a great thing to do [but] I don’t know if we could do it, I don’t know if they’re interested, and when they saw it and a video clip of it zooming across the ground and over some water, they thought, 'wow that looks like fun!'
“So they jumped at the opportunity of being offered that.
"I suppose it was my choice in the beginning but I wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t been enthusiastic about it,” he says.
The project wasn’t without its challenges though, according to White.
“Some parts came from the United States, so they had to be ordered over the Christmas period.
“Keeping in touch with [the company] was difficult.
"Then there was a problem with shipping, and import duties and taxing and all that sort of stuff.
"So it wasn’t without its problems and it wasn’t until March that we started [building].”
Once all the parts arrived, the class quickly ran into trouble putting the machine together.
“The instructions ... weren’t very clear.
"We work in metric, of course, but the instructions that we got were printed probably about 20 years ago and they were blueprints, and they were in feet and inches.
"They weren’t that detailed, once you did one part of the project it became clearer what the next step was going to be, but you couldn’t have sat down and read the plans and made a whole lot of components and then fit them together because you had to make them as you went along.
“They were vague, to put it bluntly!” White says.
"But, when we looked at the pictures and the clips on YouTube of people that had something similar, it became obvious [what to do].”
There was also the question of funding for the hovercraft - which came from various sources including some large sponsors - and eventually the finished project will be sold to recoup some of the costs involved in its construction.
Students balanced bookwork with handiwork over the year as the hovercraft took shape.
“When we were doing fibreglassing, of course, once you’ve done fibreglass you have to wait for it to set.
"And so our class periods were 100 minutes long, so I had to work out that any fibreglass or gluing that needed to be done, had to be done near the end of the 100 minutes and the kids would do other tasks up until then so they weren’t standing around doing nothing,as it were,” he explains.
“They worked through lunchtimes and after schools and then [over] the school holidays they came in.
“Sometimes at night time we would do something that we couldn’t do during the day because we just had to stand around and wait, so we’d come in for a short period of time and glue up or paint or stitch up.
“They all had specific jobs to do and some of them chose the things that they were going to be capable of.
"There was one girl [who] was allergic to fibreglass, so she had nothing to do with fibreglass, but she would work enthusiastically on just about everything else that was involved.
“The girls were equally as enthusiastic as the boys with the project.
"It was amazing. They worked together for the common cause on this one.”
Looking back, White is excited at just how well the project came together.
“I had some doubts at times, because I thought, 'can we really get it done in a year?' Especially having a bit of a setback with the delivery of some of the parts.
"But ordering it and finding all the other bits and pieces that we needed locally – plywood and foam and sourcing good supplies at reasonable prices for glues and all that sort of thing – it was exciting, and I think anybody in the school would’ve enjoyed being involved.
“The little kids in the school kept coming up and asking “how’s your hovercraft going Mr White?” It was just a bunch of plywood and foam and didn’t look like very much, but to them it was awesome.
White even goes as far to suggest that the project is the pinnacle of his teaching career.
"I’ve had amazing students before but I’ve never attempted something so ambitious as a group project and these students just all came together and they just worked like one,” he says.
He’s set the bar pretty high for technology class projects - so how does he plan on beating 2017’s phenomenal effort?
“We’re building an aluminium jet boat this year - 3.3 metres long,” he says without hesitation.
“This particular bunch of students work beyond expectations, they are so fired up. It’s brilliant.
“So we’ll build the boat’s trailer as well...an aluminium jet boat and a trailer for it to go on.
“It’s ambitious I know! But we will get it done!”
For a local TV news story on the project, click here.