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Classes provide students with introduction to engineering classes

September 14, 2018 – As a measure focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematic classes goes before the Missouri legislature, local teachers place a focus on teaching their students the basics of engineering.

The office of Gov. Parsons recently announced a special session to consider two measures before the state legislature.

Introduction to Engineering Design students utilize skills they learned in the engineering design process to construct the tallest tower possible. Harman gave Cameron C., Shane B., Dylan B. and Alex A. four sheets of newspaper and 12 inches of tape to build their tower.

In a prepared statement, Kelli Jones, press secretary, said, “A special legislative session to be held starting September 10, 2018, which will run concurrently with the annual constitutionally mandated veto session will focus on legislation involving increased access to STEM education in Missouri high schools and the expansion of the state’s drug treatment courts. This session is expected to end on Friday, September 14, 2018.”

House Bill 3, sponsored by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit passed from the Missouri House of Representatives to face the Senate. The STEM legislation, which Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff said sends a message to high-tech companies considering a move to the state, encourages funding and participation in STEM classes.

LOCAL STEM CLASSES

Excelsior Spring High School provides interested students with classes that teach students the fundamentals of engineering. Engineering teacher Anthony Harman said when he went through school, he did not have access to technical courses. He said these classes give students an opportunity to see another aspect of the world. It allows them, he said, to receive an education in a field they would not see otherwise.

Harman’s classes focus on giving students a hands-on experience with problem-solving. The classes, he said, involve learning how one gets ideas, how to share ideas and how to develop to the idea. The students find an existing problem and create a solution to solve it, he said.

An example of the projects contained within his classes include students building the longest bridge they can with a single piece of cardstock. Harman said the project helps to introduce the problem-solving habits needed to succeed in his classes and, ultimately, in engineering.

ESHS teacher Jason Lowe coaches the robotics team. He said engineering classes focus on getting students to develop and design items that could solve a potential problem for society. Examples, he said, could include anything from products that assist in the dispensing of condiments to a system of proving clean water to residents of third-world countries.

A past robotics team designed their robot to travel at a particular speed, he said. They knew to compete effectively, they needed to determine what size of gear they needed for the axle. Skills taught in STEM classes helps them to perform the calculations needed to determine the motor speed, he said. They learned math skills that they demonstrated and tested in front of a huge audience. Lowe said this type of learning helps students to stay engaged n their education.

Lowe said the classes teach principles that students will need throughout their daily life including time management, perseverance, goal setting, assertiveness, showing initiative and problem-solving. He said these principles could be found in every setting, including his homeroom class. The students must determine their future plans, he said. They must determine the steps to prepare for their future and ensure they achieve all required elements. This remains true, he said, whether the student intends to attend college, trade school, find a job or join the military.

GIRL ENGINEERS

Harman said although the number of girls who take STEM classes shows improvement over the years, the need still exists for growth. He said Project Lead the Way, which helps schools provide needed classes for students, sponsors events intended to introduce girls to engineering.  One example, “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” allows girls to meet with female engineers who can then provide an example of what they can achieve. Harman said two girls he previously took to IGED decided to take one of his courses. He said the organization plans to begin an IGED Junior which he hopes the middle school will attend. Gaining their interest earlier, he said, will help encourage participation in classes.

Harman said research shows the different approaches to reach boys and girls. Studies indicate more success when one shows how a girl can help the world with engineering.

He said the STEM classes taught at the high school helps to complete the skills students receive other classes. He said the Innovative Design class, taught by Harman and marketing teacher Jeff Manning, provides a prime example. Lowe said the course not only introduces students to engineering but also to the “human side” of the workforce in that it contains elements of marketing and graphic design.

“They’ve got a lot of kids who struggle in school. They got other kids who excel, but they’ve got book smarts, but not street skills. There are a lot of kids who are picking up those missing skills and having fun doing it.”

 

By Kimberely Blackburn • kimberely@leaderpress.com

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One Response to Classes provide students with introduction to engineering classes

  1. Michelle Forgues Reply

    September 17, 2018 at 7:08 am

    How do we learn more about the engineering classes for middle school girls I have a 10 year old and a 13 year old daughter.

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