Home Medford News Lenape district planning to expand pilot engineering program

Lenape district planning to expand pilot engineering program

Some freshmen at Lenape and Seneca became the first students in the Lenape Regional High School District to hop on the pathway to engineering this year.

Next year, students at Shawnee and Cherokee will be able to join them.

The board of education approved a grant from Lockheed Martin for $31,200 at last week’s meeting that will allow the district to expand its Pathways to Engineering pilot program to all four high schools.

“With this grant, we’ll finally get to expand (the program) to Shawnee and Cherokee next year,” Superintendent Carol Birnbohm said. “This is the second consecutive year that Lockheed Martin is helping us with a grant.”

Last year, Lockheed Martin donated an identical $31,200 grant to help get Pathways to Engineering off the ground at Lenape and Seneca.

“This partnership opportunity provided by Lockheed Martin has enabled us to add a rigorous STEM program to our course offerings,” said director of curriculum and instruction Heather Xenakis. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for all of our district’s highly motivated students interested in engineering to understand, in application, the content learned in science and math courses.”

The Pathways to Engineering program comes from Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit company providing STEM-related classes and activities to schools around the country.

In the first year of the program, students at Lenape and Seneca are participating in an Introduction to Engineering course where they are introduced to the subject.

Mike Condurso, the instructor for the first class at Lenape this year, explained the students are learning the engineering process so they will be able to succeed in future courses.

“They’re using the engineering design process, which is similar to the scientific process,” Condurso said. “They’ll be keeping an engineering notebook.”

The students are also participating in their first engineering projects that are meant to emulate the same thought process engineers use in the real-world.

Already this year, students at both schools have made a number of projects. One is a device called a fling machine. The machine is made out of balloons, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, paper clips and aluminum foil, and is designed to launch a cotton ball as far as possible.

Another project students have worked on is a miniature cable car. The car is made up of rubber bands, cardboard tubes, tape and a plastic propeller. Students were asked to move the car with a figurine inside along a thin strand of fishing line.

Students participating in the program will move on to more advanced courses in the coming years. During their senior year, the classes will be equivalent to college-level courses.

“It’s modeled after a senior engineering experience at the college level,” Condurso said. “They will partner with a mentor in business and industry.”

The Pathways to Engineering program will be open to Shawnee and Cherokee freshmen beginning in the fall of 2015.

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