Longmeadow High School has in recent years added a more hands-on class, Principles of Engineering, to the science curriculum. The class was established in 2020 and has continued to provide students with an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) an introduction to the basics of engineering.
Ms. Dawn Striker, who taught the engineering class in 2020-2021, shared, “students get an introduction to 3D modeling software, which “gives them a little bit of background with circuits.” Mr. Aaron Keller, who is teaching the class this year, said, “It will give some students the opportunity to enjoy the engineering process, and consider pursuing it further.”
The course has appealed to many students since its establishment. “Last year I had a full class, I had to turn a student away at the beginning of the year, there weren’t any slots open,” Ms. Striker said. Despite the many people who took the engineering course, “this class is not a cakewalk,” Mr. Keller proclaimed.
“This class really requires you to work part of a team and do things with your team,” said Ms. Striker. “Part of the grade is based upon how well the projects perform. If you’re not interested in taking on challenging projects, you’re not really interested in engineering.”
Students have made many projects that require intense creativity. One of which, the most major one so far, was a passive solar panel. Currently, they are working on rubber band-powered helicopters, and “the plan for later projects includes water turbines, steam turbines, model airplanes, seismic-resilient towers, sun-following solar collectors, and then a unit on robotics with robotic arms, cars, and boats, ” said Mr. Keller.
To survive the class, students must have, “a certain level of craftsmanship,” said Mr. Keller. “It’s good to see students design and build projects. That’s a set of skills which were carelessly removed from many schools when they outsourced vocational education.”