IRHS accepting applications for pre-engineering pathway for STEM
Students at Indian River High School will plug in to a new pathway launching in September. IRHS is accepting applications for the STEM Academy pre-engineering pathway until Friday, Aug. 24. Incoming ninth-graders will begin the four-year program, which not only links to the Advanced Placement and honors programs, but gives kids a chance to create new things in classes such as civil engineering, electronics, architecture and computer-aided manufacturing.
Indian River will focus on the engineering side of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as part of its Race to the Top funding and goals.
“When it comes to challenges like this and opportunities for the kids, we want to do everything we can,” said Bennett Murray, assistant principal. “These kids — they’re excited. We met with a number of students who showed an interest.”
The goal is to develop student interest in design and engineering, in preparation for their post-secondary education and careers in STEM-related fields. Between a major senior capstone project and potential early college credits, IRHS graduates may gain an advantage through the program, whether they go to college or straight into the workforce.
In group projects, students will use creativity to solve problems and work toward common goals. They’ll use powerful software to improve products or design new prototypes. For instance, a student could design part of a tractor, and the software would show different materials, stress points and more. Around the country, some students have even earned patents at the high school level, according to Allen Timmons, engineering teacher.
That’s not all. Indian River can help bring these designs to life with a new 3-D printer. Straight out of science fiction, the machine can physically create nearly any design. Students can design almost anything, hit the print button, and the 3-D printer will slowly, layer by layer, mold a plastic replica of all the parts.
“We’re very fortunate to have it, and I think we’re going to get a lot out of it,” said Timmons. “It’s good for the students. It’s one thing to see it on the screen … now they can actually print it out.”
After Intro to Engineering, parents, administrators and local engineers will decide in which direction to take the new program. Future classes could study architecture, electronics, aerospace, or anything else that strikes the students’ fancy, for another three years.
“A lot of that will be dependent on the interest of the students and the need in the community,” said Murray, adding that career-tech education aims to “give students a step up when they graduate.”
Indian River is looking for students who have completed Algebra I before ninth grade. They should also be open-minded about problem-solving.
“A plus B doesn’t always equal C,” said Timmons, noting that kids must be open-minded about trying different solutions. “They’re going to have to think outside the box and be organized… Everything has to be documented. They’ll have an engineering notebook. This is standard throughout the engineering community.”
Timmons previously taught construction at IRHS. To become the new technology and engineering teacher, he trained extensively with Project Lead the Way for two weeks in South Carolina.
Selbyville Middle School will also introduce students to the program with a new STEM exploratory, beginning this fall.
“It’s an exciting time here at IR. We’re really excited about the program,” said Timmons.
For more information, or to obtain an application for the pre-engineering pathway, contact Indian River High School at (302) 732-1500.