Spring 2017 Issue
Check out the NEW "Profile of a STEM Student" based on student design and input.
Seniors "ACE" Final Presentation
The ACE Mentor program is an after school program lead by industry professionals that introduce high school students to careers such as Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE). The program is open to any high school student who is interested in these career fields, but is limited to 40 students per year, who must apply for a spot.
This year, STEM had four senior students commit to the ACE program; Carson Lane, Bailey Smith, Zanab Toppa and Tanner Wilson. These students attended presentations once a week and completed various projects with mentors from local firms.
Students worked each week with a team of experts to solve problems presented by the team of mentors. Our students gained knowledge, skills and were able to network with engineers and architects. During a few of the evening events, students were able to visit job sites, professional locations and engineering offices.
On Thursday, our four STEM students presented their final project to a panel of architects, construction professionals and engineers. Our team created a design and plan to repurpose a historical building in Fort Worth into a performing arts center. The panel was impressed with our students professional skills and their designs.
In addition, the ACE program offers several college scholarship to students who complete the program. Out of all of the applicants, Zanab Toppa and Carson Lane were each awarded a $4,000 scholarship. Congratulations—we are so proud of you!
The Texan Robotics team participated in the FIRST Dallas Regional Competition at the Irving Convention Center March 8 - March 11. The FIRST robotics competition is a global competition in which teams construct robots that are tailored toward specific tasks, with this year’s theme of “Steampunk,” or steam-powered machinery. In order to gain points, students were required to use the robot to gather and shoot racquet balls into specific zones, gather gears and send them onto the “flying machine,” or climb onto the flying machine at the end of the match.
In the qualifying rounds, the team placed 13th overall and was selected to participate in the finals, which took place on the final day of competition. The team was able to advance to the quarter finals before being eliminated.
During the event, team members were given the opportunity to volunteer and help around the facility. Gabriel Wood, a sophomore in the Texan Robotics team, volunteered to aid the Dean’s List nominees by escorting them to their interviews. He said, “While escorting the Dean’s List nominees, I was able to learn about how important community service and things that aren’t traditionally viewed as being part of a robotics program were.” The Dean’s List is a prestigious award given to a nominated junior by their teams.
The competition itself, left lasting remarks on the team members. One of the sophomores, Marla Erica Gamboa, stated that “even though it was intense competition we were able to make friends with the other teams that participated.”
Robotics sponsor Kim Hendrix was extremely proud of her team's performance. She said this was "the first time we have made it to the quarter finals in the Regional competition, and it was very exciting!" The robotics team is currently repurposing the competition robots for future competitions and school events.
STEM Juniors Visit the Holocaust Museum, Hear from a Holocaust Survivor
On Thursday, February 23rd, the STEM junior class visited the Holocaust Museum in downtown Dallas. The trip was for an upcoming cross-curricular project with English and History. It was a solemn visit, but it gave the students insight into other periods of history, and provided them a message to apply to their own lives.
The museum had an endless variety of information, expansive collection of items from the time period, including an entire train car used to transport Jews to concentration camps, and first hand accounts of the Holocaust. The students used an audio guide throughout the museum to provide context of the images and stories behind them.
The students were fortunate enough to get to hear from a Holocaust survivor, Bert Romberg. He was one of the few who were able to escape Germany before the war began, 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. Mr. Romberg provided a first hand account of what life was like during this difficult period of time.
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.
Engineers on Tour
This year several STEM senior students received an amazing opportunity to travel to Lockheed Martin Grand Prairie to explore engineering in the "real world" and celebrate Engineers Week. 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.
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 what they have learned in their courses at NHS. Senior Noah George said that he was “very grateful for this unique opportunity" since only a select group of students are invited.
“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 who chaperoned the event. "We hope to continue this partnership" so that our students will be able to visit Lockheed and form relationships with engineers.
When Animals Take Over
After reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, the STEM freshmen were tasked with researching a country that is run by a totalitarian government, much like Animal Farm. Students were required to research the current situation of the people within that country and any social injustices that occur. As a team, they had to decide whether or not the U.S. has a moral obligation to intervene and help the people.
After individually researching the country, some teams 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.”
Freshmen Austin Dragoo said, “The best part of the project was definitely doing the research and putting the presentation together." On the other hand, he said that the most difficult part was "when [his] 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 on a compromise.
This project provided STEM freshmen with the basic concept of comparing novels to real life situations and evaluating the situation in order to come up with a solution.
Juniors Present Rocket Ideas to Professionals
It's that time of year -- Rocket time! Our STEM juniors are currently working on the biggest engineering project of the year, the Mile High Rocket project. The goal of this project is to design a rocket that can fly at least a mile high, carrying a 1-pound payload all while staying under budget. Since the first day of school in August, juniors have been gaining knowledge that leads up to this semester long project, including center of pressure and mass, how wind can affect a flight, and placement of parachutes.
As a team, the students research and design the rocket from nosecone to fin that they think will meet the goals. After designing, the students use a program called RockSim to test their rocket. RockSim allows students to adjust for current weather so that they can predict how the rocket will react on launch day.
Before students can order parts and begin the build, their designs must be approved by a panel of judges. Our judges this year included engineers, rocketeers, and scientists. Once the judges provide feedback and suggestions, the team can make adjustments or redesign. Then the ordering of parts begins...
STEM aerospace facilitator, Elizabeth Mitias is the teacher behind the project, and she has seen “both successful launches and a few failures.” She is hoping for a successful launch for all five of our rockets this year but knows that the success lies in the hands of the students.
One of the teams is currently creating a prototype to test the tumble recovery system that will be implemented into the final build. STEM junior Dale York is “looking forward to seeing the finished product” especially since they have been working on the design for months. The rocket project is one of the longest in terms of time and provides students a look at design, redesign, test, redesign, build and test that occurs in engineering firms, especially aircraft or rocketry.
Our teams will begin building this week and launch will take place in Fredericksburg, Texas, on May 20th. 3 - 2- 1... ignition!
The Great Clinometer
STEM geometry students were tasked to create a clinometer to measure the height of certain objects. A clinometer is an instrument used for measuring the angle or elevation of slopes. 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 with it. With kids using their creative minds, Hladky incorporated math in a real world problem. When asked about doing the project next year, Hladky responded with “I hope I can do this project every year because of how much fun it is.” With many positive compliments on the project, Mark Hladky is hoping to do the project at least once more.
STEM freshman Aiden Jean said that the project really helped him to understand geometry and trigonometry. He said that he "never enjoyed learning about math the way [he] did in this project.” The project gave students a different outlook on learning about math and using trigonometry formulas in a unique way.
Another STEM sophomore 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 by doing more than just completing a worksheet by using the calculator.” The project assisted him in acquiring a “better understanding of trigonometry" by applying real world applications through Problem Based Learning.
The Ultimate Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering, also called backwards engineering, is the processes of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made and re-producing it based on the extracted information. This process is an important skill for STEM students to understand.
STEM facilitator Kimberley Garrett teaches her students the ways of Reverse Engineering by implementing PBL projects to help get a better understanding for the subject. Mrs. Garrett states that the main goal is “to evaluate how Engineers design things and to show step-by-step how people construct certain objects.” The students work together in teams to learn more how to deal with other people in a work environment.
STEM Sophomore Steven Besa, is new to reverse engineering and finds it very interesting, stating “the process often involves disassembling something and analyzing its components and workings in detail.” Being able to see how all of the components fit together and work is an important element of engineering. Freshman Sakina Zaki stated that it was "interesting to look at objects as small parts" instead of just as a whole.
Northwest Sports Overview
Northwest Sports have been busy making history all year. But this spring has been award season...
Northwest Varsity Boys Basketball participated in the State Tournament for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, the boys lost in the State Semifinal, 82-59 to Fort Bend Marshall. We want to congratulate the team and Coach Hatch on a great run!
Northwest Varsity Boys soccer is also doing very well this season, making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They fell to WF Rider in the first round by a score of 3-0. Congrats to our STEM boys on the team -- what a great season!
Northwest Varsity Girls soccer also had a good season entering the playoffs but lost first round 4-1 against WF Rider.
Northwest Wrestling had a successful season with STEM student Aiden Jean participating in the State Tournament and placing 8th.
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 grew up in Indiana, she moved to Texas this year from Chicago. Though she misses home, 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 is enjoying being part of the STEM family.
When asked about biology in Goodwin’s class, freshmen Aiden 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.
Zoo of The Future
Our STEM Biology class launched a PBL in early March. The students are tasked with designing an animal habitat for the zoo that is takes the animal needs, keeper needs and provides a view and information for the visitors. The students began the process by researching the history of zoos and discovering how zoo exhibits have changed over the decades. In order to gain a better knowledge of exhibits, students visited the Fort Worth Zoo for on site research. Finally, students will need to design, model, and present an exhibit for their animal.
On Thursday, March 2nd, 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 looking at both the keeper and visitor spaces. Freshman student 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 the final designs that teams present.
As teams, the students determined the animal exhibits that they wanted to visit and that would provide the best inspiration for their own exhibit. Each team was responsible for notes, sketches and images from their trip. After the trip, teams were able to sign up for the animal they wanted to design and exhibit for --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.” Once they have their animal, students will begin the design process, taking into consideration all of the important animal needs, keeper and visitor experience.
Their zoo exhibit is required to have a special interactive feature that helps educate visitors about the animal and its natural habitat. Sophomore Connor McGreger said, “One requirement for our exhibit was that we needed to make it inviting for the visitors and the zookeepers” and though the animal needs are the most important, "being able to access the habitat and animal safely" is a key element for the keeper. Also, ensuring the "visitor has an enjoyable" experience is important," stated Abby Hogan.
Once the teams have designed their exhibit and interactive feature for their project, creating a model and presentation will round out the final product. The presentation will include more than the design, including the animal needs and natural habitat information, research about the animal, feeding habits and likely budget for the build.
This PBL is a legacy project (completed with every group of STEM students) and is really a big test in teamwork and organization. This year, the students will be using their skills in Inventor to create their zoo designs. We are excited to see their final designs and hear about their interactive visitor experience! Stay tuned for the final zoo exhibits!
Junior World Affairs Council Meet Author
Last month Junior World Affairs Council members attended a luncheon that featured speaker Richard Haas, author of “A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.” The STEM students traveled with STEM history teacher Mary Proudman to the Crescent Hotel in Dallas for the event. They had the opportunity to meet the author, who is president of the Council on Foreign Relation and worked for the Department of State under President George H.W. Bush. He spoke to the audience about world institutions, like NATO and the European Union, and the impact of growing chaos in western politics.
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. Students district wide, K-12, were eligible to present in the showcase of learning.
AMAT Senior, Preston Lyon described the event as “a fun way to show of how [we] use technology everyday in class.” Techno Expo is one of the largest community events 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." She also said that 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 this event brings "all of us together to see how students are driving learning in classrooms across the district.”
As technology and learning continue to grow and change, we look forward to seeing what our students have to showcase next year.
STEM Opens its Doors for Incoming Freshmen
On Monday, January 23rd, Northwest HS and STEM opened its doors to parents and future students to allow a view into our school. 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 parents of those interested in STEM were able to speak to STEM teachers, tour of the STEM rooms and ask questions of current students. 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 a 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.” According to Mrs. Helmick, student guided tours help because they “help future students hear from their peers and receive personal stories from those who have had the academy experience”.
Overall, the evening was a great success for STEM and NHS -- special thanks to all of our student ambassadors who volunteered for the event!
Murder on Molar Airlines
STEM Juniors became crime scene investigators in a Chemistry PBL, hoping to solve the murder on Molar Airlines. During the investigation of a plane crash, students discovered that there had been a murder pre-crash.
The only evidence discovered was a variety of chemicals found on the bodies of both the suspects and victim. Students had to determine who was the murderer by balancing the chemical equations discovered and matching those with chemicals found on the victim. Teams then chose one of the chemical formulas found on the plane and created a poster with basic information about the chemical. Each individual had to write a creative story about how the murder occurred, using all of the chemicals and other evidence.
STEM juniors agree that this project provided a fun way to learn chemistry. Junior Branden Seigl said, “I liked the mystery" and how Ms. Hendrix gave them a 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.”
Ever thought about what traits you might pass to your future children? Well, Mrs. Goodwin’s Biology classes did just that.
The biology students were given case studies of a set of parents and had to work through their genetic testing, blood tests and family histories to determine what types of traits could be passed to their offspring. After determining what the genetics of the parents were, the students had to create family trees, complete Punnett squares, and figure out what the possibility of passing the syndrome to the next generation was.
Student teams created reports and presentations to provide their "patients" during a one-on-one counseling session. During the session, the students were able to describe the syndrome and its effects on the person, determine the probability of passing the trait and share any treatments with the "patient."
When asked about the project, Mrs. Goodwin stated, “they learned a lot about genetic symptoms and how traits are passed down.” Student Austin Ahmad said I “learned a lot" but it "was also really interesting and fun.” Julien Smith stated that this was “one of my favorites this year because he learned a lot from it.”
Success at UIL Academics
The Northwest High School UIL Academic team had a great weekend, full of awards! We had a ton of STEMers participate in a variety of events.
Our very own Aiden Bowen and Devlin Bowen helped the Mathematics team take First Place and are headed to Regionals. Congratulations to Ben Najera, Aiden Bowen and Devlin Bowen for their Second Place finish in Number Sense. Sam Harper, Aiden Bowen and Devlin Bowen also finished Third in Calculator.
Derek Maynard, Junior, placed First in Computer Applications and will be heading to Regionals.
Two students, Zanab Toppa and James Davis, placed Second in Science and earned Silver Medals.
We are very proud of our STEMers who were part of this awesome UIL Academic Team!
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 our readers on specific events happening within the school.
In this article, we are spotlighting Julien Smith, a freshman in the STEM Academy and a Varsity Basketball player for Northwest High School.
As an integral member of the basketball team, Julien has to balance his school work with practices and games. He is a starter on the varsity team and helped the team win 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. After a great run in the playoffs, the boys team is looking forward to another winning season next year.
Since he is on Varsity as a freshman, he has more to juggle than a typical 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 -- and his grades are extremely important to stay eligible. Julien said it is “difficult having to handle basketball and school work” at the same time but knows that time management and organization are key to success both on and off the court.
Mia Zaro is an NHS STEM 2015 graduate who is finding that the skills she learned in STEM are currently helping her through college and life. Being in STEM helped her gain interest in architecture and design. And it even helped better prepare her for college.
She is currently enrolled at Texas Tech for architecture. STEM helped her “better adapt to architecture school,” through all four years of STEM she “learned programs such as AutoCAD, Revit, and Solid Works" which she still uses daily. The transition from high school to college was made easier because of STEM and the level of expectations her teachers had.
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 are winning the Ambassador for College of Architecture contest, Dean’s List, 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.
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