CTEC CAPS Quarterly Update

Cedar Trails Exploration Center

CAPS Welcome, OPEN HOUSE, and Classroom Happenings

This quarterly newsletter will provide details about progress towards our vision & mission through project examples and small successes.

WELCOME from CTEC CAPS! The faculty decided early on to have quarterly newsletters. Since the home high schools already share weekly news, our goal is to share information at the end of each quarter. CAPS stands for Center for Advanced Professional Studies; we are a part of the CAPS Network.

We strive to achieve the following CAPS CORE VALUES:

  • Profession-based learning
  • Professional skills development
  • Discovery & Exploration
  • Entrepreneurial mindset
  • Responsiveness
  • For detailed information about our goals, check out our website

We want your feedback! Look for a parent/guardian survey within our 2nd quarter newsletter, which will help us to grow and improve as a new facility and program.

CTEC CAPS OPEN HOUSE: Mark your calendars! On October 27th from 6pm to 7pm we will open our doors to you to showcase our 3 CAPS Strands: Bioscience, Design & Emerging Technologies. Plan for a quick "welcome" from us in the atrium from 6:00-6:20, and the rest of the time you and your family can freely travel from room to room and check out the areas of most interest to you. More information coming soon via a Skyward blast!

TEACHER APPRECIATION! We are so "new" we do not have a PTO or funds available to support our teachers with snacks/meals during conferences or funds for CTEC CAPS staff t-shirts. Please consider donating to help us get started. We will contact you after you sign up to donate: CTEC CAPS DONATIONS. This link expires on 10-31-21. Thank you for helping us!

PARTNERSHIP: If your business/organization would like to partner with CTEC CAPS, we would appreciate the sponsorship! It takes a village to be able to support the programs within our building as many of our supplies and equipment are costly. Please share our Sponsorship Information with your local business colleagues. Thank you!

CLASSROOM HAPPENINGS: Please take a look at the content below showcasing activities and class content within each of our CAPS Strands. ENJOY!

Bioscience Strand

Bioscience - all classes

First quarter, Bioscience students explored the new facility by reviewing laboratory safety guidelines. Student groups produced instructional videos that taught their peers how to be safe in a lab setting and how to use basic lab equipment. Students next mastered how to write Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to conduct a DNA Extraction and Precipitation Lab and a Reaction Time Lab. Micropipetting was the first laboratory skills test mastered by students and was put to good use during the Size Exclusion Chromatography lab this week.

After interviews with various Kansas City health centers, Biomedical Innovations students began the quarter by trying to solve Hospital Emergency Room concerns that were revealed during those interviews. Some of the concerns mentioned by health care staff included how space is utilized in the E.R., the registration process and triage designations in light of the pandemic, and the retention of qualified staff. Students then explored how to determine which sources are reliable and can be used in scientific research. Examining how data can be misinterpreted and how the public can be misled by the manipulation of data was a relevant topic students covered this quarter.

Design Strand


Currently our Design strand consists of four courses: Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Graphic Design, Graphic Design Workplace Experience and Principles of Illustration. Students enrolled in each of these courses have been immersed in developing their drawing skills. Additionally, they are expanding their experiences in the Adobe suite of software. Participants are tasked with solving creative problems such as designing a “gig” poster in Adobe Illustrator inspired by one of their favorite bands. Students are also creating for client-based projects like designing infographic posters to be displayed at CTEC. The posters will inform students and visitors about the many opportunities available while participating in one of the CTEC-CAPS strands such as Bioscience, Design, and Emerging Technologies. Additionally, our Graphic Design Workplace Experience students are designing stickers for this year’s Starside Elementary Walk-a-thon fundraising event.

Emerging Technologies Strand


The robotics class has spent the last couple of months working hard and learning about robotics on several fronts! We started the year by learning about connectivity and communication systems that utilize networks. Then we pivoted to learning some basic and intermediate coding concepts including pseudo coding, block coding, and even dabbled into some javascript. Finally, we've were able to bust out the tools and start building some working robots. We are currently focused on building and learning about different types of drive trains in order to be able to compare and contrast them for use in future projects! We've just barely begun to scratch the surface on what we'll be working on! After we wrap up our projects with drive trains we're going to start building 'end-effectors'. These are the parts of robots that enable them to interact with the world. We'll build several different types of claws, hooks, scoops, and lots of others. Students will utilize their critical thinking skills in order to establish the advantages and disadvantages of each. Towards the end of the semester students will then use all of their knowledge they've gained thus far to build robots to compete against other teams within the class in several challenge games!

Computer Science & Cybersecurity

Mr. Hessong’s Computer Science classes have participated in quite of bit of setup to begin the school year. With the addition of a new workspace in the new Cedar Trails Exploration Center, the student’s were given the opportunity to install brand new desktop gaming computers. Included in the installation was the implementation of RAM cards to the motherboard and student input was also considered in the overall layout of the classroom. The Cybersecurity course has begun developing interactive works to be displayed in an exhibit during an open house for the new building later this month. The pieces are intended to not only help observers learn more about protecting their personal information in this digital age, but also show the user simple steps to begin taking steps to secure their own data.

Digital Electronics

We began the semester by learning and understanding how to write very large values into scientific and engineering notation. This will allow students to record answers in a smaller value with correct numbers, notations and units. We continued with learning basic analog components and their function in a circuit. These components would include things such as switches, resistors, capacitors, various diodes including LED’s (light emitting diodes) and power supplies. Students learned how to decipher the color code for a resistor, record the value and use a DMM (digital multi-meter) to measure the actual resistance value.

We have also learned Ohm’s Law which is the relationship of voltage, current and resistance in an electrical circuit. Students learned how a breadboard works and connected analog components to create series and parallel circuits. They then gained knowledge on how to read and set a DMM to measure voltage, current, and resistance in a series and parallel circuit. Students completed hand calculations using Ohm’s Law and compared them to the actual voltage, current and resistor DMM measurements in a live circuit.

Recently, students were introduced to digital components such as transistors, logic gates, Integrated Chips (IC), and others. They have studied how logic gates work and function, such as AND, OR, NOR, NAND, NOT, and XOR gates. Students were then introduced to how to create a truth table and read them to generate a logic expression. Students also learned how to use logic gate datasheets for IC chips to locate information such as, descriptions, chip diagrams and pin numbers, voltage supply ratings and more. We are preparing to begin using IC chips in circuits, connecting the circuits on a breadboard, and evaluate their output signals. Students will soon be engaged in learning how to design circuits to meet specific output signal criteria.


Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM): Students in CIM are close to finishing their first big project. The Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) uses all their previous challenges to create an autonomous robot that follows a path stopping at specific points and then continuing until the finish. This is all done with VEX Robotics hardware and V5 programming software. The students are able to accomplish this by using the small VEX challenges early in the year and put them all into practical use for their AGV. The Start of the year had students exploring the different pieces that go into manufacturing such as lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Automation, Flexible manufacturing systems, and more. The end of the quarter will close out our hand on learning to control systems and we will start to investigate manufacturing processes and how we make things.

Engineering Design & Development (EDD): This is the capstone course for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and these seniors are off to a great start. Two groups have come up with a real-world problem to solve. One group is focusing on food taste and possible dietary restriction concerns, while the other group has their goal to solve heath and comfort issues with bicycle seats. We will finish off the quarter with a ‘shark tank’ like presentation to showcase each groups problem statements, research, and initial design concepts.


Our Advance Production Blueprint Reading class has been working on their blueprint visualization concepts. This has consisted of going over different line types and views used in blueprints. To help students understand the concept of orthographic projections we had class outside and used chalk to draw orthographic projections in the parking lot.

Emerging Technologies & Mass Production classes have been learning about a variety of technologies from computer aided design, 3D printing and Drones. Our classes got to spend a day outside learning about and flying drones before we created 3D models of drones. To introduce 3D printing each student got to model their own keychain. Once modeled, students walked through the process of slicing the model to 3D print.