January/ February Newsletter
The Annual Technology Exposition
Contributed by: Richard Warren and Chance Hutson
Techno Expo took place on February 27, 2014 at Northwest High School. This event takes place annually, and gives students from all of the Northwest ISD campuses a chance to showcase their work, for which they used technology, to a broader audience. Cara Carter, the technology instructor at Northwest High School and one of the event's coordinators, encouraged everyone to attend the event, and to come early to view all of the presentations.
The event began with a dinner at 5:30 p.m. and continued until 8 p.m. The environment was business professional while students presented their projects and what they learned to the crowds. Prior to getting to present at the event, teachers nominate and recommend their students' projects to be showcased in the Techno Expo. This year there were over 600 presentations submitted from throughout the district, featuring 6 presentations in each classroom where each presenter was given 10 minutes to present. Of those projects, STEM contributed 32 projects, and had more than 90 students participate in the event.
Keep an eye out for a feature article in next month's newsletter providing details about some of the projects that were presented at Techno Expo.
Lake House Project
Contributed by: Jacob Suchors, Brandon Fryer, and Caleb Baker
The sophomore STEM students recently created a Lake House in their AutoCAD Class. The AutoCAD Instructor, Mrs. DeLong, commented saying, “The Lake House Project is an effective way for the students to learn the basics of AutoCAD.” The students were in teams of three, which enabled them to do a fair amount of work and to balance their time efficiently.
In addition to designing their team's lake house on a computer program, the students also had to build a scale model to better show the interior and exterior layout of their design. By completing the tedious work of creating a model, many students learned how to manage their time effectively.
The students learned that time management is crucial when it comes to big projects such as this one. It was a great learning experience for the students, and they learned 21st century and AutoCAD skills that will benefit them in future STEM projects and life alike.
School of The Future
Contributed by: Julio Santos, Michael Hammel, and Mac Barrow
Each school year the incoming STEM freshman participate in an ambitious freshman STEM project, called The School of the Future. The project is very rigorous and advanced, but each year the students prevail through it and surpass expectations.
When asked what the objective for the project was, Mrs. Garrett explained that, “The Objective was for the students to build and design a High School in another state". They were required to include a 15-minute multimedia presentation and a 10-page essay. They also had to construct a scale model of a future High School classroom.
When asked how the freshmen did, Mrs. Garrett replied that she "thought that the freshmen did exceptionally well. California had the best classroom model and design, and Hawaii had the best classroom design and integration.” This year the freshman spent around seven and a half weeks working on every aspect of this project including the physical, educational, and environmental aspects of the school and design, for which they use the Engineering Design Process.
Overall, this project was a success. Both the facilitators and the students enjoyed the project, and the project surpassed expectations. This project is a milestone in many of the STEM students' academic careers, and will hopefully continue to challenge incoming students with a rigorous, introductory project.
STEM Community Reveal
Contributed by: Mia Zaro, David Bricker, and Briana Maskell
STEM Community Reveal is all about giving the freshman an opportunity to show off their hard work. Recently, the STEM Class of 2017 worked towards building and designing a school for future generations, also known as the School of the Future project. This project was not only a test of creativity, but also a friendly competition between all the freshmen engineering classes.
Before Community Reveal took place, the freshmen were hard at work researching and collaborating on elements to incorporate into their futurist school. When freshman Zanab Toppaz was asked about what it took to complete this project successfully, she responded saying, “Time management is very important aspect.”
As a first year student in STEM, freshmen are introduced to a new learning style called project-based learning (PBL). The School of the Future projects acts as an introduction to PBL style learning, and it opens students' eyes to the reality of their next three years in the STEM program.
Contributed by: Chase Wilson, Austin Cratty, and Tyler McMahon
STEM’s newest mathematics teacher, Ms. Rix, has shown how powerful project-based learning can be by incorporating her mathematics lessons into a new and inventive project named “Water Feature”.
The purpose of this project was for students to actively use math in a real-world scenario by building an architectural design. Students' designs had to include a water feature that could be built into Alliance Town Center's main plaza. Regarding the rigor of the math required for this project, Ms. Rix commented, “Students used multiple quadratic equations, and made many different types of water features using fountains [and] water jets...” According to one student in the class, the project was “very cool because [they] had a lot of free range for ideas and creativity.”
The project was well-rounded and efficiently taught the required math skills. Ms. Rix added that she was "very impressed with how the projects turned out. There were a lot of creative ideas that I thought had the potential to actually be plausible with more time and effort put in to the design.”
Technology Student Association
Contributed by: Hunter Marks, Beau Rasberry, and Koby Bounheuandvilay
The Technology Student Association is the only student organization dedicated to the needs of students interested in technology. The program is open to any student who has completed and/or is in the process of completing a technology course. STEM Academy students begin technology courses their freshman year.
The Technology Student Association has over 190,000 members in 2,000 schools over 49 states. The Technology Student Association holds over 200 competitions annually to meet the interests of every student.
For the 2014 season, the STEM TSA teams compete in events such as Architectural design, rocket cars, bridge building, and trebuchet launching. In these events, the students will compete with other students from all over Texas to showcase their knowledge of engineering and design.
The STEM Academy already brought a state title home with them. During the 2013 season, a team of sophomores won first place in the Rocket car competition. This year, the STEM academy hopes to continue their streak of excellence at TSA and to do well at the competition.
STEM Seniors of 2014
Spotlighting Seniors: Joey Musgrove
Contributed by: Austin Cratty, Ryan Johnson, and Dan Helfer
STEM students juggle a lot of different extracurricular activities, yet still manage to keep up with STEM projects and activities. Joey Musgrove is a STEM senior; in addition, he is a part of football, band, and power lifting.
Joey wants to attend UT of Austin after high school to earn a degree in petroleum engineering. Through his STEM career, Joey feels he has learned many invaluable skills for the work force, such as time management, leadership, team work, and problem solving. He offered advice to incoming STEM students reminding them “to turn in work on time, choose groups wisely-- not [choosing] just friends, and do not procrastinate”.
Spotlighting Seniors: Taylor Lawerence
Contributed by: Austin Cratty, Ryan Johnson, and Dan Helfer
Taylor Lawrence is another STEM senior. She has been noticed for her outstanding academic achievements, as well as her success in the senior STEM rocketry class. She even received the privilege of visiting NASA as a representative of the NHS STEM program.
Someday Taylor hopes to attend the University of Oklahoma or Kansas State University, and plans to eventually an architecture firm. Taylor is an example of a true leader in the STEM program, and she wants to remind all underclassmen to "not get overwhelmed and to know [their] limits".
Taylor is the president of STEM Council, as well as president of NTHS. She is involved in NHS (National Honor Society), SHS (Spanish Honor Society) and she also is a section leader in the band.
STEM Student and Athlete: Anna Dunkelman
Contributed by: Corey Mallon, Michael Morgan, and Josh Selman
STEM is very involved with project-based learning, as opposed to traditional teaching techniques, and is a program based around making projects. However, students are very involved with sports and must balance their schoolwork with their workouts.
Anna Dunkelman is a varsity girls’ soccer player, as well as a top student in the STEM academy. Anna, like many students in STEM, has had to learn to balance project-work in STEM and varsity soccer.
When asked how Anna balances both STEM and soccer, she replied, “It’s pretty easy. After practice I go home and do my homework, and I make sure I get all my work done before my games”. Anna was then asked how other students view STEM. She commented, “Most people view STEM as scheduled and a little nerdy.”
Overall, Anna views STEM as a great learning experience that uses both collaboration and a different style of teaching.
Post Grad Life: Austin Pryor
Contributed by: Kyra Hays, Rebecca Patton, and Karina Chavez
Traveling around the world, volunteering in Africa, and working for college money are just a few of the many things that high school graduate Austin Pryor has done in the recent years. Austin is 19 years old, and was among the first group to spend all four years of high school in the STEM program. In the beginning, it was his mother who encouraged him to go into the STEM program, but the learning he absorbed while in the program has been helping him out in a lot of different areas. When asked how STEM has helped him after High School, Austin said, “I’m much more sociable so that helps in a lot of ways".
After graduating, Austin traveled to South Africa, and while there, volunteered at a primary school as a P.E. coach for 3 weeks. He then spent 9 weeks at a nature preserve doing the any jobs that needed to be done. He also stated that, “Besides just being able to talk to people, the patience I learned in STEM from having to deal with people definitely helped when I didn’t agree on how things were done, or [in] dealing with the language barrier.”
Austin is currently working to save up money for college, and will be attending Texas A&M University in the fall to study and major in electrical engineering.
STEM Robotics Competition
Contributed by: Brad Dam and Casey Martin
In STEM there are multiple opportunities to do many inventive, creative, and outstanding things, and among these things is Robotics.
In Robotics class, the students build, create, and program their own robot to compete with each other in friendly competition. Last semester, students competed in preliminary competition wherein the robots had to move through a course, grab seven rods, and return the to the starting line, all within two minutes. In this competition, three students scored perfectly. According to Ryan Rogers, it was “hard to control a robot to pick up all seven rods without dropping them, which deducts points”.
Not only does STEM have a robotics class, but the program also maintains a Robotics club after school. Mr. Brown and Mrs. Garrett, both engineering teachers, host the club at Northwest High School. The club focuses on a range of things, including programming robots, building robots from a set of parts, and building robots from scratch. The club competes in competitions with clubs from other schools.
Robotics will be holding a heated second-round competition with the same design as the preliminary competition, which will take place along with many other interesting showcases, at the STEM Showcase on May 15, 2014
STEM in the News
Contributed by: Skyler Blancett and Heather Spears
STEM is a program within schools to further the education of students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The STEM program has been around for quite some time, though many colleges and high schools are just now becoming more interested in the program.
Countries seem to be in a race for the top when it comes to test scores and education. Considering the American students are lagging behind in mathematics and science compared to students in Asia and Europe, it is no wonder that schools are starting to take the STEM program more seriously throughout the country. According to Betsy Landers, the National PTA President, “International test scores show that in science U.S. eighth graders were outperformed by eighth-grade students in eight countries. In math, U.S. eighth-graders were outperformed by their peers in 14 countries” (Landers, Reigniting STEM Education). Even Girl Scout troupes are fighting to get new badges based around the four STEM fields.
In addition, thanks to the growing need for the latest technology and the drive to cure cancer – and other difficult diseases – America has many career openings for anyone with the right degree and experience, particularly STEM based. Most of the currently un-employed adults cannot fill these career openings because they lack the right knowledge necessary for a STEM field job.
In spite of its economic pitfalls, America has managed to keep STEM field jobs open and waiting for applicants with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Seemingly, luck is in the air for NISDTX STEM students.