“Project Lead the Way” in Sandwich 7-12
By Dr. Ellin Booras , Principal – STEM Academy & SHS and Gil Newton, Director – STEM Academy
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the STEM Academy has been the successful engineering program available to all students in the 7th and 8th grades. The curriculum used is the Project Lead the Way Gateway to Technology program.
This national curriculum introduces 7th graders to Design and Modeling and is taught by Mrs. Ginger Lavelle. The 8th grade program is Automation and Robotics and taught by Mr. Peter Trimble. Students collaborate on innovative and creative solutions to authentic problems using the same technology and software used by many corporations. Students apply their artistic, mathematical, and communication skills to each project. These two classes give them a strong foundation as they prepare for high school. Here are some of the student’s comments and observations:
“I like more hands-on and more sharing.” – Wesley Horan
“I like how we have to do research about our project before we build it and I like working with partners. We have more brains to work with.” – Tyler Earle
“We learn group skills and I like to work with different people.” – Emily Hunt
“I’ve learned how to program and build and I’m going to learn a lot more.” – Neil Bennick
“I like when you’re building something and everything is going wrong. You can ask Mr. Trimble and he helps you without giving answers. We’re able to work with our partners to solve the problem.” – Robbie Haggerty
“I like designing the models and the skimmers. I’ve learned about the engineering process.” – Cameron Kelly
“I learn how everything is related like math and science. Engineering is part of everything and it helps you succeed in other classes.” – Kileigh Holt
“I like how everything has to be exact.” – Charley Nee
“I like the creativity and the projects.” – Molly Blanchard
Mr. Eben Franks, an engineer and the chair of the Science Advisory Board wrote, “The STEM Academy Engineering program is a remarkable opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in the many fields of engineering. The STEM Science Advisory Board, comprised of numerous dedicated professionals, supports classroom activities, after school programs and clubs. The SAB provides mentors, guest speakers and proposal-writing guidance for real world, relevant experiential learning. Capturing students’ interest at such an early stage gets them on the path towards a wide range of opportunities for advanced studies, more complex projects and career options beyond that. It is gratifying for members of the SAB to see the commitment the Sandwich Public School District has made to expanding these opportunities into the high school.”
Dr. Steve Kramer is a member of SAB and the father of a student in the STEM Academy. He wrote, “Becoming an engineer means that you are an active participant and contributor to issues facing the ever changing modern world. From aircraft, medical, our environment, energy conservation to the internet requires effective design, problem solving, and construction skills. A high school engineering PBL program based on trickle up and trickle down multi-stage STEM exposure is critical to our children’s success including the cross-training engineering design approach and peer review process. Internships and college applicants should benefit from a high school STEM program as well as our community.”
You can also see Mrs. Lavelle’s After School Robotics Club demonstrating at the School Committee this winter here.
So, how do you follow this at the high school? The feedback from our students and families of the STEM Academy has exceeded our expectations. Phase II includes an expansion of Project Lead the Way Pathways all the way through high school.
Beginning next fall. Sandwich High School will launch a continuation of Project Lead the Way with their Pathway to Engineering program. In keeping with the district’s commitment to inclusive STEM education, all 9th graders will be enrolled in Introduction to Engineering Design. Students will dig deep into the engineering process, applying math, science and engineering standards to hands on projects. The course is an ideal match to the core values and beliefs of Sandwich High School as articulated in our commitment to collaboration and problem solving. The students will sharpen their critical thinking skills and apply math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects.
For those students interested in these rapidly growing fields they will have the opportunity to elect other engineering classes as they proceed through high school including Principles of Engineering and Civil Engineering and Architecture. During the 2016-17 school years, SHS will also add the PLTW classes in Principles of the Biomedical Sciences and Human Body Systems. All of these courses will provide SHS students with a rigorous program focusing on teamwork and industry-leading technology as they plan for post-secondary studies in STEM related fields.
The three SHS teachers who are scheduled to teach the new freshman Engineering course exude a level of excitement which matches that of the students:
Dr. Lawrence Anderson, Physics teacher SHS
“I am very excited about being part of the team bringing Project Lead the Way to Sandwich High School. The curriculum is mathematically rigorous yet project based and hands on. It looks like it will be a lot of fun.”
Steve Watson, Department Chair, Science 7-12
“I am very excited to be one of the educators selected to be trained in PLTW. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching biology for the past 10 years and before that working in the biotechnology industry for ten years. It’s only fitting that I find my way to the engineering classroom at SHS. My grandfather was the chief engineer for the Canal Electric Power Plant right here in Sandwich for 25 plus years. I look forward to challenging the 9th grade students with the in-depth hands- on engineering curriculum.”
Courtney Aboltin, Science and Forensics teacher
“I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting opportunity that will be available to our STEM students as they make their way to the high school next year. I am honored to be part of the inaugural team! I am looking forward to next Friday, May 8 when we visit PLTW classrooms at Medway High School. Not only will be able to experience two different PLTW classes in session, we will also be given the time to meet with veteran PLTW teachers! It is an exciting time to be at Sandwich High School.“
Yes, it is an exciting time. Blue Knight Pride has expanded to embrace the excitement of inquiry based instruction and will rise to new heights in the level of meaningful student engagement. We look forward to many great stories featuring next year’s freshmen as the Class of 2019 will tell the story of PTLW at Sandwich High School.