STEM Newsletter

October 2013

STEM Sophomores Visit the Anchor Fabrication Plant

By: Mac Barrow & Clay McClendon


For the first time, the STEM Academy took its sophomores to a fabrication plant. The trip allowed students to learn how math was used, how technology was integrated, and how metals were fabricated everyday at the plant. Much like the STEM environment, employees at the plant problem solve, collaborate, and use technology on a regular basis. Students got the chance to see the result of this as they saw metals either melted, molded, shaped, or heated. Examples of the metals that were formed from the plant are then placed in, or on homes such as roofs, air ducts, rain gutters, or any item that required a metal.


STEM students were excited to learn more because architecture is an interesting piece to today’s engineering world. STEM students came prepared to learned as they dressed in business casual, along with safety glasses that were worn all times within the plant.


According Thomas Speicher, "The fabrication plant staff was extremely professional and very excited to see us as we represented the STEM Academy." He added, "I was interested to hear that the staff at the fabrication plant used Auto C.A.D (Computer design program. This relates back to us and how we as sophomores also use the program." Thomas concludes that the best part of the experience of being at the plant was learning all the different steps to creating metal and how complicated it really was.

Freshman Visit the Waste Water Plant

By: Vanessa Marlo and Brad Dam



​On October 22, The STEM freshman went on a fieldtrip to the Denton Creek Regional Wastewater Plant. Here they figured out what wastewater was, what role a wastewater plant has in our community, the benefits of clean water, and how it is returned to the environment. This trip also allowed them to understand how the wastewater treatment plant works, chemical, physical and heavy on the biological process, the science of wastewater, and laboratory examinations, and the professional opportunities in the water industry. As the freshman get ready to take on the School of the Future project, this visit was relevant and will help them as they plan for all aspects of their new school.



When asked what he thought of the trip, STEM Freshman Forrest Hart replied, “The trip was fun. Although the plant smelled pretty bad, I learned a lot about the treatment plant. I thought it was interesting that there are different types of treatment plants not only chemical." Forrest expanded, “I learned how, there wouldn’t be any clean water without the plant and that there is extremely high security, in case of a terrorist attack on the plant.” It turns out that at the plant they treat the water by using bacteria found in the stomach and a UV light.



Overall, the best part of the trip was the aeration basin. "This where the ‘magic’ happens," stated Forrest. "The aeration basin is where the bacterial is located and where the breakdown happens,” Forrest concluded. All in all, the trip was a success and taught the students a lot of helpful information for their upcoming project.

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Juniors Hear Embry Riddle

By: Austin Megallon and Chase Wilson


In early October, one of the most hands-on college universities in the nation came to Northwest to talk to our STEM juniors about their campus. Their presentation was not only relevant to STEM’s curriculum and hands-on environment, but sparks the interest of many as they explaining how they compare and interact with other companies in the United States. Embry-Riddle offers a large list of degrees ranging from bachelor degrees in aeronautical science to PHD’s in engineering physics.


Embry-Riddle has campuses in places worldwide including Asia and Europe. They also offer military scholarships and even offer financial aid in certain situations, especially when they know that a particular student will be productive. Alumni are offered jobs in their preferred fields including the CIA, Boeing, NASA, American Airlines, and many more. STEM Junior, Collin Deffner commented that the presentation was very informative and that Embry Riddle is the best college available for anyone wishing to go into the field of aeronautics. Collin was most influenced by the fact that, "Every piece of equipment that is used to test and train with at Embry Riddle is state of the art and equipped with all of the latest advancements in technology." Overall, Embry Riddle got many Juniors thinking about their life and plans after high school and motivated them to achieve High School goals in order to get into schools like Embry Riddle.

Robotics Competition

By: Hunter Marks and Kyra Hays


With School approaching the end of the second six weeks, school clubs are in full swing and the Robotics team is no exception. The STEM Robotics team has already entered two competitions and the school year has barely begun. With two first competitions under their belt, the Robotics team looks forward to what lies in the future.


Kim Garret, the robotics sponsor claimed, "I am extremely proud of the students. We made it to the wildcard round and scored 180 more points than ever before.” For those of you who do not know, robotics is more than putting pieces together and making a moving bucket of parts, it is about learning. The knowledge gained through robotics could never be found in a textbook. It is about applying the 21st century skills learned on a daily basis and applying those towards a common goal. The Robotics team is not a group of nerds: they are simply a dedicated team.

PBL in Action! Learning by Doing.

Algebra II Art Projects

By: Julio Santos and Michael Hammel


One of the biggest changes in STEM for the 2013 – 2014 school year has been the new additions to STEM. One of the new staff members is the new Algebra 2 teacher, Ms. Rix. Switching over from regular teaching practices to PBL is a huge challenge for both the students and teachers. However, as is the case with most teachers, they handle the transition both swiftly and with tact. Recently, we interviewed Ms. Rix to see how her first project in STEM went over all as well as what the project consisted of.


When asked what the objective for the project was, Ms. Rix explained that, “The students were tasked with coming up with a work of art which was comprised of five parent functions in Algebra II.” Ms. Rix added, “the students exceeded my expectations, and did a great job… they seemed to enjoy the project and I had fun as well.”

Armani Frye (STEM Junior) reflected that the “Work of Art” project was unique. I liked how we got to choose what we wanted our work of art to be." She also noted, "This project taught me that when dealing with a relatively large group, communication is key.”


Overall, this project was a success. Both the facilitators and the students enjoyed the project, as well as the project surpassing expectation. Hopefully, this project will survive the test of time for other future STEM students to enjoy.

HornSTEM Court Trials

By: Mia Zaro, Dan Helfer, and Casey Martin


The STEM Sophomore Class recently undertook the rigorous English project which required them to argue their position as a part of HornStem Law Firm in the Texas Court of Appeals. This project was created around the summer reading book, "To Kill a Mockingbird."


In this book the main character is accused of rape, without evidence of the act. The entry document was written by the granddaughter of Tom Robinson who, once hearing that the jurisdiction had been moved to Texas, wanted an appeal to uphold the name of her family. Teams were to create an argument for both prosecution and defense on whether Tom Robison had a fair trial or whether his rights were abridged. the edgy puzzle piece to this project is that students were not aware of what side they would be partaking until the day of the “court trial”.


When asked what he learned from the project, student Sean Riggen stated, “I learned how to think on my feet, how to prepare defense and prosecution briefs in MLA format, and how a court trial works. I also learned how to research credible information about modern laws, racism, and murder. This project made me think harder and find answers.”


When asked what he learned from the project, Jordan Dunn stated, “I learned a lot about how large of a factor race really was throughout reading this book. During the time of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the Jim Crow laws had just been passed against racism, but people still believed African Americans to be inferior, especially in Alabama where the story took place.”


Throughout this project, students learned about court trials, learned how to properly play a defense or prosecution role in a court, and learned about modern laws against racism in the court.

TKM Court Trials Movie

Biology Zoo Projects

By: Jacob Suchors and Brandon Fryer


STEM Sophomores recently completed the Zoo Project in biology. This was an interesting project because it also involved the students AutoCAD class. This crossover allowed students to work on two different skills during one project, thus creating more productivity.


According to sophomore Melisa Tucker, “The project was a great way to help us learn AutoCAD and figure it out for ourselves.” The students worked hard to create drawings for a zoo exhibit of their choice, and some students went the extra mile to create a 3-D model of their exhibit.


Sophomore biology teacher, Mr. Hughes, stated, “the students put forth more effort to create a 3-D model this year than the students in past years.” Melisa Tucker also added, “the project gave us freedom because we were able to choose our animal and design the exhibit the way we wanted.” This project not only teaches about two different subjects, but it also gives students the freedom to complete in almost any way they desire.

Freshman Zombie Containment Project

By: Austin Cratty and Tucker Chaka


STEM Freshman took a creative approach to learning Algebra I concepts. In fact, each team served as a design team with the task of designing a movie set for LOL Entertainment®. The movie was about zombies taking over the town. The zombies had to be in contained in an irregular concave polygon shaped fence/area. Each group designed a unique shape, with walls or fences around its perimeter to contain the zombies while adding their own creative flair.


Students presented a variety of designs ranging from flying caged zombies in by helicopter, to electrified cables and land mines. Their final product was presented to LOL Entertainment®, faculty and administration. Trevor Watkins stated, “My favorite part of the project is that we were given the freedom to design the cage how we wanted.” Throughout this project, the Algebra I students have learned a lot about irregular polygons, while having fun at the same time.

STEM in Cheer

By: Corey Mallon, Michael Morgan, Beau Rasberry, & Josh Selman

"We may make it look easy, but like all sports it takes hard work and dedication," said by Author Shawna Fox of Manchester, NH about cheerleading. Cheerleading can be an overlooked sport in today’s society but it is easily matches, and sometimes passes the amount of work and dedication required to be successful.


Mia Zaro was interviewed over how to balance STEM and cheer as well as how people outside of STEM view students on the “inside.”


Mia was asked how she balances STEM and cheerleading, to which she responded, “I have to keep a planner and calendar so I know when projects are due and when game days are.” The STEM academy is based around projects and it is easy to forget which project is due on which day. This; however, is part of STEM, trying to balance many projects and how to be successful in each of these projects.


Mia was also asked how other students view STEM. She responded with, “Other students view STEM as something very nerdy, allot of work, and not athletic.” In recent years many people have put stereotypes on STEM that label the students in STEM as being “nerdy” or “super smart.”


The last question that Mia was asked was how she responds to how other students views STEM. Mia said, “I try to explain how it’s not part of the negative stereotype.”


Cheerleading is a tough sport to compete in, but against all stereotypes, it is a sport that matches baseball, basketball, and even football. Just like all athletes in the STEM academy Mia has to balance the tough sport of cheerleading and a full academic schedule being in the STEM academy; but somehow, she accomplishes this feat, and is very successful in this endeavor.

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After STEM...

By: Armani Frye and Christian Thomas

How is STEM preparing students for college and the work force? This is a question that many students and parents tend to ask. We checked in with STEM graduate Fabian Vasquiz to see where life outside of the STEM hallway has taken him.


Fabian is currently attending UNT and majoring in Electrical Engineering. When asked how STEM helped prepare him for college, Fabian replied, "By learning to work in teams, I find college projects to go much smoother." Fabian noted that he works on team projects in college and does not struggle with communication and deadlines like many students who have not learned in a collaborative environment do.


A Glimpse into STEM Classrooms

By: Sebastian Reyes, Cole Usher, Ridge Hanson, and Ryan Johnson

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