Engineering class generates interest

Students+model+cars+as+part+of+IED

Aligory Pitzl, Pitchfork

Students model cars as part of IED

A class started this year called Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) for freshmen students. The class counts for a technology credit, and every student gets a laptop. The classroom even has a small 3D printer.

The science department has been looking for elective classes to teach as an alternative to core classes. The class is taught by Mr. Scott, who also teaches biology and coaches basketball.

“The main thing is teaching [the students] how to figure things out without instructions, by working together,” Scott said.

He makes the students keep an engineering notebook in the classroom, and sets deadlines for when things are supposed to be turned in. This class was created by Project Lead the Way, a program helping students adapt to the working world. The worksheets that Mr. Scott teaches are also designed by PLTW, and everything his class does has to be uploaded directly to the website.

The class has made a paper bridge, a cable car, and much more in the class already.

“I think the class is teaching me how to work in groups better,” Stephen Melander, a student, said.

One of the projects is building a glider out of a pencil, 2 papers, 2 rubber bands, 12in. of string, 5 paper clips, a grocery bag, and 2 popsicle sticks. The goal is to make it fly as far as possible.

“This semester they’ll have to make a happy meal toy. [The students] have to follow all the safety and size regulations. A big part of the grade is doing the presentation over it, Scott said.

Another project is Skyping with a student from another state who is taking the same class. The student is expected to collaborate and complete a project with said stranger.

Building things out of scratch, especially if one doesn’t know what it’s going to look like at first, is especially difficult for most students. PLTW and Mr. Scott are preparing the students for any pre-engineering courses they take in the future, and ultimately, later in life.