STEM Program Evolving At EHS

Find out about how EHS is incorporating more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
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Amy Achs, AP Erie Correspondent

Recently Brad Storm, Erie High School Science Curriculum Chair and Science/STEM teacher, gave an update to the Board of Education regarding the STEM program at EHS. Here is some of what Mr. Storm talked about with additional information about STEM.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and is a current trend in education striving to teach students how those four academic disciplines integrate with each other, very much like in the workplace. Since the Next Generation Science Standards are very STEM focused curriculums are changing to keep up. There are many reasons that everyone is talking about STEM including the need for these skills in a technology-based world, to fill employment gaps, and to remain competitive worldwide.

There have been changes to the current science curriculum to include more STEM or STEAM activities to better prepare college-bound students for their degree programs or internships along with preparing non-STEM career college bound students in the areas of thinking critically, problem-solving, and creativity in whatever field they choose. Another benefit to STEM instruction is that the new programs better prepare students seeking training and careers in trade related industries by giving them hands-on experience with the actual machinery and tools that would be used in the workforce. This gives EHS students a head-start and advantage from the moment they graduate, all while meeting the science standards.

Recently, a new segment has been added to the program by including Art making the acronym STEAM. The new wing added to the high school is very conducive to making this happen with the Shop classroom, STEM classroom, and Art classroom all in one place allowing for easier collaborations.

ECUSD Supt. Chuck Milem was presented with two items created by technology used in STEM classes.

Some of the current technology that the STEM program and science classes are using includes a Stratasys F170 3D Printer, Laser cutter/engraver, z-Space AR/VR machines, Sensory/ Data collection probes, and Stress Tester (bridge designs) among other programs and more traditional equipment. A CNC router and CNC plasma cutter are currently used in Industrial Tech classes and are a STEM component in those classes, but there are plans to use them in other STEM classes in the future.

Many projects have been planned, proto-typed, and created including crafting custom parts for a 9-square game for the middle school PE department and engraved plaques among others.

Storm presented Supt. Milem with a plaque and a panther with the board members receiving fidget squares created by students using the STEM technology. Mr. Storm felt that there were some fundraising opportunities available with what students have been able to produce.

Mr. Storm also updated the board regarding some changes to classes being offered for the 2022-2023 school year with more plans for the future:

Ecology/Environmental Science will be offered again by Mr. Storm after a two-year break, but will be different than past classes with STEM components being added.

The current STEM class will not be offered in 2022-2023 taking a one-year break, so students can take other science classes with introductory STEM components that will allow next year’s STEM class to be more complex and renamed STEM: Modeling & Design.

Mrs. Wall will teach STEM: Intro to Engineering. It will be open to grades 11-12 after completion of Geometry and Biology I. This class will focus on the design process and engineering. The curriculum will be mostly project-based and hands-on where students are planning, designing, creating, building, and rebuilding. Potential projects might include wooden bridges, robots, and large-scale research and development like creating a functional hydroponic greenhouse.

Erie High School have ample opportunities to participate in STEM classes.
Erie School District Board members were presented with fidget squares, another product created by students using STEM technology.

STEM: Drafting will be taught by Mr. Foster, will be open to grades 10-12, and will be the prerequisite for next year’s STEM: Modeling & Design. Students must complete Survey of Science, Algebra I and take concurrently with Geometry. The class will include orthographic sketching, 3-view sketching, CAD environment drafting (Fusion 360), 3D modeling, prototyping, and manufacturing process. The class is project-based and the fall semester will focus on drafting and the spring semester on design and prototyping.

Astronomy is a new class being offered by Mr. Foster and will be open to grades 11-12 who have completed Biology II. Astronomy courses offer students the opportunity to study the solar system, stars, galaxies, and interstellar bodies.

The following classes will continue to be offered but include more STEM content; Physics, Biology I & II and Chemistry I & II.

A course for consideration and a vision for the future of the STEM/STEAM program is STEM: Computer Integrated Manufacturing that would be open to grades 11-12 with the prerequisite of STEM: Drafting. This will take the CAD drafting and design process to another level, would teach CNC machining using the router and plasma cutter, as well as 3D printers and the laser cutter to create prototypes and working models.

Overall, there has been a great deal of planning, training, curating of technology and curating of equipment in order to make all this happen and the STEM teachers are asking the district to continue to support their efforts to further their vision to improve the opportunities and education of EHS students.

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