Spring 2017 Issue
Check out the NEW "Profile of a STEM Student" based on student design and input.
|Monthly Newsletter: STEM Academy, Northwest ISD||
Check out the NEW "Profile of a STEM Student" based on student design and input.
When Animals Take Over
After reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, an allegory for the Russian Revolution, the STEM freshmen were asked to compare and contrast communist countries to Animal Farm, and each group chose a country to research. As a team, they had to decide whether or not the U.S. has a moral obligation to intervene with social injustices occurring within that country.
Before reading the book, freshmen saw a documentary on Stalin and the treatment of his people within Russia. Their main objective was to highlight all of the social injustices in their country and come up with an idea to help the nation with its problems. After individually researching the country, each team had to come together and decide whether to intervene or not. Some chose to intervene, and some decided that intervening would cause too many repercussions. Freshmen Sakina Zaki said, “When researching about the country, we had to think in a different way about what the U.S. could or couldn’t do and the pros and cons of intervening or not intervening.” Out of the many groups during the project, most of them helped the endangered countries while the rest of them chose not to help the country or annihilate them.
The project evaluated their knowledge gained through research, the choices they made, and their teamwork with each other. Freshmen Austin Dragoo said, “The best part of the project was definitely doing the research and putting the presentation together. The most difficult part was that my team didn’t communicate well together.” According to STEM English teacher Karen Carrier, the students "became very passionate about the findings in their research, and some teams had a difficult time deciding whether or not to intervene. Many students finally settled with a compromise."
This project provided these STEM freshmen the basic concept of comparing novels to real life situations and evaluating the situation in order to come up with a solution. This project was a success and will be brought back next year for the new freshmen of STEM, and this will be a step in helping the students to become college.
Mia Zaro is an NHS graduate who is finding that the skills she learned in STEM are currently helping her through college and life. It helped her get more interested in architecture and designing. It helped better prepare her for college.
She is currently going to Texas Tech for architecture school. STEM helped her “better adapt to architecture school”, through all four years of STEM she “learned programs such as AutoCAD, Revit, and Solid Works witch are all things she now uses daily”. The transition from high school to college was made easier because of STEM.
Some things that Mia likes most about Texas Tech is the “exiting and fun environment” including all of the opportunities the college has to offer. Some of her achievements in college that Stem helped her achieve is the Ambassador for College of Architecture Award Winner, Dean’s List Student, and Student Government Association Senator for College of Architecture.
STEM was a big part of Mia’s life and now she is off to college working her way to accomplish her goals and dreams. Needless to say she is on track and almost there.
STEM Juniors Visit the Holocaust Museum, Hear from a Holocaust Survivor
On Thursday, February 23, the STEM junior class visited the Holocaust Museum in downtown Dallas. The trip was for an upcoming cross-curricular project in English and History. It was a solemn visit, but it gives the students insight into other periods of history, and gives them a message to apply to their own lives. The students had the opportunity to hear a speech from a Holocaust survivor, Bert Romberg, after they toured the museum.
The museum had an endless variety of information for everyone to absorb, and had an expansive collection of different items from the time period, including an entire train car used to transport Jews to concentration camps. The students had an audio guide with them that would inform the students about the context of the images shown, and the people shown in them.
The students were fortunate enough to get to hear a speech from a Holocaust survivor, Bert Romberg. He was one of the few who were able to escape Germany fast enough, through the Kindertransport, a program in England that transported Jewish children from Germany via train. Romberg told his entire life story with the aid of a presentation, and kept the presentation intriguing through his use of documents and maps. His message was one of reevaluation of those who are refugees just as he was; that perhaps those who seek refuge here are in the same situation he was, and that no one should be so quick to judge those who seek refuge, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.
Each year STEM students receive an amazing opportunity to travel to Lockheed Martin to explore the real engineering world. Lockheed Martin is an aeronautical engineering company responsible for designing some of the nation’s best air combat weapons and vehicles. Lockheed also supports PLTW (Project Lead The Way), which is the current engineering curriculum being used in STEM at NHS. This unique opportunity is available only to STEM students, and this year, twenty-one seniors were able to go.
The trip consisted of a tour around the facility as well as the opportunity to talk to several engineers. STEM Senior Carson Lane described the event as “an awesome way to view the real engineering field.” Students were able to compare the engineering process at Lockheed to the way they do here at Northwest. Senior Noah George said that he was “very grateful for this unique opportunity that not everyone gets.”
“We are very thankful to have been able to take the students to see the facility and show them how similar and different engineering can be on a professional level,” said Jackie Delong, one of the STEM facilitators that chaperoned the event. Students each year will continue to be able to visit Lockheed with STEM and with internships available students are encouraged to apply to truly experience the engineering field.
Juniors Present Rocket Ideas to Professionals
STEM juniors are currently in their biggest project of the year, the Mile High Project. The goal of this project is to make a rocket with a budget under $900 able to go a mile high using their newly taught aerospace knowledge such as center of mass and center of pressure.
STEM aerospace facilitator Elizabeth Mitias is the teacher behind the project, and she has seen “multiple failures and successes each year.” She is hoping everyone’s rocket will succeed this year. Sixth period team leaders Alexis Jodoin, Aileen Bernes, Alex Plihon, and Thomas Gobal, with the team Andromeda, presented in front of judges. Their judges included rocket and engineering specialists that gave them very in-depth and helpful criticism for later in the project.
Currently the building team is creating a prototype to test the tumble recovery system that will be implemented into the final design. Thomas Gobal in the parts list and order team has found and is currently ordering the parts for the rocket including “the nose cone, fins, parachute, etc…” STEM junior Dale York is “very proud to be on the team and is looking forward to seeing the finished product.” He is on the presenting preparation team contributed to the power point in the presentation with the design and information layout needing small tweaks here and there during practice presentations but eventually making a final product that the presentation couldn’t have been successful without.
Eventually after all of the prototypes are tested and the parts are ordered the rocket will be built and ready for launch. Hopefully the judges input will help the team pull through with a successful launch and recovery.
Molar Airlines was a chemistry project that STEM chemistry facilitator Kim Hendrix came up with for her classes. The project was based around chemicals that were on an airplane crash site. Students were given the information that someone was murdered an hour before the plane crashed. They had to figure out who got murdered and who the murderer was based on a few chemicals on each person’s body. Students had to balance the chemical equations and do all this work to find out the two to four chemicals that each person had on their body/belongings. With this information, students could Identify whose body was whose. The teams then each had to pick one of the chemical formulas found on the plane and create a poster with the name of the chemical, its uses, and a picture of the chemical.
STEM juniors agree that this project provided a fun way to learn chemistry. Junior Branden Seigl said, “I liked the mystery about it, how you actually have to work to find out who was the murderer.” He added that he liked how Ms. Hendrix gave them a lot of freedom in writing the story. He said, “It was all about creativity, you could add humor into it and make whatever you want.”
When asked about the project, Ms. Hendrix said, “The fun part for me is reading the personal account essays. Students get a chance to do creative writing in science, and I love reading what they come up with.” She also added, “It is awesome to read what each student writes for back stories. Ten students can write about the same plane crash victim and each story is unique. There is always a little bit of the student in the story.”
The Great Clinometer
With sin, cos, and tan, measuring an object's height came into the real-world. STEM facilitator Mark Hladky instructed his kids to create a clinometer to measure certain objects. A clinometer is an instrument used for measuring the angle or elevation of slopes. The object will hang from a string. Students used trigonometric ratios (sin, cos, tan,) to measure the real life height of various objects. Creativity played a big part in this project and trigonometry came to life with one simple object.
STEM facilitator Mark Hladky has done this project every year and continues to have much success on it. With kids using their creative minds, Hladky incorporates math in a real world problem. When asked about doing the project next year, Hladky responded with “I hope I can do this project everyday because of how much fun it is.” With many positive compliments on the project, Mark Hladky is hoping to do the project once more.
STEM freshman Aiden was astonished by Clinometer project. This was his first time doing it and he enjoyed it very much. He learned so much from it that he stated “I never enjoyed learning about Math the way I did in this project.” The project gave students a different outlook on learning about math and using trig formulas in a unique way.
Another STEM freshman Austin Schaaf gave his input on what he learned from the project. Instead of writing notes in his notebook, he learned about trigonometry by “measuring real-world objects more than just doing it on a worksheet and the calculator.” The project assisted him in acquiring a “better understanding of trigonometry,” just like all other STEM projects. With much more to learn about Trig, Austin is ready and prepared to do gain knowledge in another awesome way.
Zoo of The Future
The freshmen and sophomores of STEM have been tasked to make an exhibit for a zoo. They have chosen an animal and are researching all the facts about a zoo and their exhibits. In order to gain a better knowledge of exhibits for their animal, students visited the Fort Worth Zoo. Finally, students will need to design, make, and present an exhibit for their animal. The start of their project begins with the annual trip to the zoo.
On Thursday, March 2, the entire freshmen and sophomore classes took a field trip to the Fort Worth Zoo to understand more on what makes a zoo safe and interactive. They explored the zoo, taking pictures and notes over the designs of each animal’s exhibit, and also learned more about their animal along the way. Freshman Morgan Smith said, "We drew sketches in our notebooks of the design and layout of the animals' habitats. We also had to watch how the animals were behaving to see if they were happy in their current habitat. Also, we looked for access points for the zookeeper to enter and leave the habitat for feeding and cleaning purposes." The data they collected at the zoo will be crucial to the project and what each group will create for their exhibit.
The students individually split off and chose their own animal that they preferred to use for the exhibit, and they will have to create a design concept over what their exhibit would look like for the animal they chose. Each person will then present their animal and their idea of what the exhibit may look like. STEM Teacher Sarah Goodwin said that “the students had to come to school at 8 A.M. to sign up for their animal as a first come first serve basis.” The team will then decide on the most preferred animal to use for the project, and might use some ideas from each team member. They will then begin working on constructing their model zoo and its most important feature.
Their zoo exhibit is required to have a special interactive feature that shows the people what makes the exhibit special from the rest of them. Sophomore Connor McGreger said, “One requirement for our exhibit was that we needed to make it inviting for the visitors and the zookeepers.” This is one of the most important parts of the exhibit, the students will need to choose wisely on what they will put in as for their interactive feature so that it can impress the judges with their presentation.
Once the groups have finished their exhibit and interactive feature for their project they will then need to make a detailed yet professional presentation over the key qualities of their exhibit. The presentation needs to include the RD and FN designs for the zoo and interactive feature, the mapping of the exhibit, the type of animal chosen for the presentation, details on the safety of the habitat, information on the interactive feature, and the total budget for the production of the model. The project was really a big test in the teamwork between each other and was one of the best projects.
This project was one of the most interactive and fun learning experience for the STEM sophomores. It really brought people closer together linking so many classes together at once.
Techno Expo is a district-wide presentation of technological uses in the classroom for activities such as projects and homework. From 3D buildings to a presentation on how to graph quadratic functions, Techno Expo showcases a wide variety of subjects and problems solved through technology. Both STEM, AMAT, and students from other academies or regular classes from any grade level were eligible to present in the showcase should their projects be approved.
AMAT Senior, Preston Lyon described the event as “a fun way to show of how [we] use technology everyday in class.” After the presentation students receive a lanyard with a small flash drive containing the item they presented. The event is the largest every year in NISD and is a welcoming place for people of all ages. Techno Expo also gives teachers the chance to showcase the material they teach through their students. STEM English facilitator Karen Carrier said she was proud of her students who presented in Techno Expo. She said, “I thought the students who presented were very professional. They did a great job of showing how technology is implemented in the classrooms in STEM and at Northwest High School. The people in the audience seemed not only interested but very impressed as well.”
According to Jason Sanders, Instructional Technologist at NHS, “It’s great to see so many people from across the entire school district. Often times we forget that each school is part of a larger learning community and events like Techno Expo bring all of us together to see how students are driving learning in classrooms across the district.” More people are encouraged to attend Techno Expo each year and attendance continues to rise. As Technology improves, it is recommended to attend to see what students can do with it.
STEM Opens its Doors for Incoming Freshmen
On Monday, January 23rd, STEM opened its doors to parents to let them see what their students had accomplished, and showed incoming freshmen what to expect in STEM. There was an enormous turnout of parents that were interested to see what their students would gain from being in STEM. There were also showcases for all kinds of activities and other academies across the school.
The Open House began at 5:30 PM, and went on until 7:30. The parents of those interested in STEM were given plenty of time to speak to STEM teachers, and got a tour of the STEM rooms. The STEM robotics team was located in the center of the school, just outside of the STEM hallway, and showed off their robots throughout the school.
Open House is very important to the STEM academy. STEM Academy director, Casey Helmick, says that Open House is important for “giving students and parents chance to see what STEM is about, and give tours for students to see the classrooms and talk to students.” It also helps parents “meet with teachers and see what happens in the classroom.” During the tours of the STEM hall, incoming freshmen were given tours by current STEM students. According to Mrs. Helmick, student guided tours help because they “help future students hear from their peers and receive personal experience stories from those who have been in the academy for awhile”.
The Open House is definitely a success on STEM’s part, because STEM can look forward to a nice 109 student freshman class next year.
The UIL spotlight is used to spotlight a certain person in any UIL activities like sports, fine arts, or other academic activities. This helps to update people on a specific event happening within the school at the time. In this article I will be spotlighting Julien Smith. He is a freshman in the STEM Academy and a Varsity Basketball player for Northwest High School. Basketball is currently in season so this makes Julien well suited for UIL spotlight.
Julien has to balance his school work with sports. Since he is Varsity as a freshman, he has more to juggle than any usual freshman. Also, being in STEM means a larger amount of work each night and he can’t fall behind or he will have trouble catching back up. This could lead to him failing a 6 weeks and having to sit out for 3 weeks without playing basketball. He said it is “hard having to handle basketball and school work” at the same time. He is still successful in school though and works hard.
He is also successful in basketball. He starts on the varsity team and just won his previous game for his team with clutch free throws in the final seconds of the game. Coach Hatch, the head coach of Northwest Varsity basketball, likes what he sees from Julien. He has stated that Julien is “a hard worker” and is key to the team. He has to practice in basketball to be able to get better at his favorite sport. It is the same for school. He must study to become better at the subject. So he has to have good time management to be able to handle both of these things.
The Ultimate Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering, also called back engineering, is the processes of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made and re-producing it or re-producing anything based on the extracted information. STEM facilitator Kimberly Garrett teaches her students the ways of Reverse Engineering by implementing PBL projects to help get a better understanding for the subject.
STEM facilitator Kimberly Garrett is in charge of the Reverse Engineering for the Sophomores and Freshmen. When asked about the main goal for the students to learn in this subject, she responded by saying “We learn Reverse Engineering to evaluate how Engineers design things and to show step by step how people construct certain objects.” The students work together to get used to working together with people in the future.
STEM Sophomore Steven Besa, is new to reverse engineering and finds it very interesting for that matter. When asked about the process of Reverse Engineering, he responded with “The process often involves disassembling something and analyzing its components and workings in detail.” With being new to the subject, Steven Besa acquires new skills to help him in the future.
When asking STEM freshman Julian Smith (who is also new to the subject about Reverse engineering) about how Reverse Engineering helps him in the future he responds with “It helps me know when a certain object has downgraded and it gives me an outlook on how you can change certain things about an object due to close analyzation.” With the future always on people's’ mind, Julian implements how Reverse Engineering leads him to the correct path.
Sarah Goodwin is the newest teacher in the STEM Academy. This year, she is only teaching biology, which is new for her because in her past years she has taught at least two subjects. Although she was born and raised in Indiana, she moved here from Chicago, and this is her first year in Texas. She prefers Texas over Chicago because of the weather, since she doesn’t like the cold.
Mrs. Goodwin said, “I wanted to work in the STEM program at Northwest because it would give me a chance to implement some creativity and a hands-on approach to biology. Mrs. Goodwin has taught for six years and has taught a multitude of classes like Environmental Science, Avid, Physics, and Biology. Mrs. Goodwin has a love for teaching and has come to like the STEM program a lot.
When asked about biology in Goodwin’s class, freshmen Adien Jean said, “Mrs. Goodwin is a great teacher, and I have learned a lot from her. It also helps that she is nice and funny.” Freshman Michael Grice added, “Being a teacher requires more than just teaching the material. You have to teach the ideas behind the material that communicate the lesson, and Ms. Goodwin does that.” Mrs. Goodwin has adapted well to the STEM program and has been an excellent addition to the academy.
Mrs. Goodwin’s Biology class just finished with their Genetics Project. This project takes Genetic Symptoms of a mother and a father and find out if their baby will receive any of their Genetic Symptoms. The students had make family trees, punnett squares and figure out what the symptoms the baby possibly receive.
Mrs. Goodwin told, “The students really took well to this project and they learned a lot about genetic symptoms that they thought they understood but they really didn’t.” Student Austin Ahmad said “In this project I learned a lot and it was a fun project at the same time.” Student Julian Smith said “This project was one of his favorites this year because he learned a lot from it.”
This project has been a successful project over the years in teaching students about genetics. This project will be done next year because it is a great way for students to learn about genetics.