VHS students are solving real-world problems with new STEM classes

By Melanie Williamson

At the Monday, October 9, school board meeting, assistant VHS principal Joe Tellier introduced some of the newest classes being offered at the high school. He explained that they wanted to increase the offering of electives, but to make sure they were offering electives that the students wanted to take and that would prepare them for success after high school. With that in mind, they have added several new STEM classes to the curriculum including think tank and inside technology. Tellier then introduced Gabe Caudill to the board to learn more about these classes and opportunities.

Caudill brought with him examples of items that have been created using the new 3-D printers at the high school. He explained that the students are given challenges to research and create something that can accomplish a specific goal. For example, one of their first projects was to make a Frisbee that worked.

Kyra Stovicek, one of his students who was also at the board meeting, created a Frisbee she saw online that looked like a tube similar to a piece of PVC piping. She explained how her first attempt didn’t work because she made it too large and the walls were too thick, which made it overall too heavy. Her second attempt was much better and they were able to consistently throw her Frisbee back and forth over a span of 30 feet.

Caudill also showed the board examples of instrument mouth pieces they were able to make with the 3-D printer for the band program, and anchor keychains they are making and selling to raise money for the class. He had anchor keychains in several different colors and explained that they can make them on the printer at a cost of roughly $.11 cents each and they are selling them for $1.

With his inside technology class, the students have been able to dissect computers, identify all the parts, and rebuild them. Caudill stressed the importance on focusing on recent technology as much as possible to expose student to new options in innovation and give them the opportunity to use that new technology in a meaningful way.

Stovicek shared that she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, so she has been taking as many of the STEM classes as she can throughout her time at VHS.  Through her classes, she has been able to make pieces of a drone on the 3-D printer and is working with Mr. Caudill to build it. She was also able to use the printer to make parts for a rocket she was building for her physics class with Mr. Joe Schneid.

Stovicek also shared that they were challenged to design and make a balloon car that could travel at least ten feet, which she was able to accomplish on the second try. Additionally, the class is working with student resource officer Brian Beckwith to design and create door barricades that could be attached to the doors in an intruder situation, so the door could not be opened.

Caudill referred to the door barricade project as an important one because of the real applications the students can see. He shared he is also working with companies to create real challenges for the students to create a solution to an actual problem. Similarly to the instrument mouth pieces and the door barricades, his focus is to challenge them to solve real life problems.

He explained that this is more than the fun of getting to create something with a 3-D printer. The students need to come up with an idea, research it, design what they think will work, create it, and then test it. Stovicek and Caudill each gave examples of projects that didn’t work the first time, so they had to figure out what they did wrong, redesign it, and create a new one.



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