Winter 2017 Issue
|Monthly Newsletter: STEM Academy, Northwest ISD||
Showcasing Student Learning with Portfolios
Niki Hammeri, Guest Column
This fall the STEM Academy students have been brushing up our resumes and creating our online portfolios.
A portfolio is a site designed to showcase your achievements and skills, as well as who you are as a person. When applying for jobs and colleges, a portfolio can be part of the process that interviewers review. It is important to show yourself off and express who you are inside of both inside and outside of class. Your portfolio should be visually appealing - don't just slop something down! Color schemes and hex codes are your friend as you create a theme for your portfolio. Use resources such as Canva to design buttons, logos and headers for your portfolio to give it a personal touch and make it stand out from others.
When you apply for college, a job or even a scholarship, the first thing they will want to see is what you have gained in skills and experiences. What better way to do that than collecting your achievements and work in a single site! You have your resume, certifications, achievements, sample work and more all in a single location. They'd love to see how much dedication you have put into growing as a student and the professional skills you have mastered. So you have to bring our your best qualities - express your robotics innovations, flaunt your work as an officer of Student Council, share what you love about scouting and impress them with your certifications in AutoCad or Microsoft Word. Interviewers what to see that you are well-rounded and have more to offer the company.
There are often hundreds of people competing for the same position or scholarship! It is crucial to bring out the amazing skills you have. What makes you special? What is your competitive advantage? Why should they choose you over another applicant?
Ask your STEM student to share their portfolio with your family. Give them feedback and ask questions about their samples, design and goals.
Check out some of our student exemplars:
Building a Stronger Future
Cameron Hunter, Guest Column
Northwest ISD CTE program was excited to launch Career Trees this fall. A career tree is a tool given to students to help them learn about and discover different things about the careers they are interested in. A Career Tree helps discover the different types of jobs within their career path, the different levels of a career, how those careers can affect your lifestyle, and the types of training that are required.
The career tree is separated into three parts, the Roots, Branches, and Leaves, and each focuses on a specific goal. The roots, which are arguably the most important part of the tree, help you research what you need to do to have a good foundation for your future, including academics, experience, professional skills, and passion. When you’re filling it out and researching what you need for your specific field, it’s really eye opening because you discover the specifics of what you need to do now to prepare for the immediate future. The roots are the most important part of a tree and strong roots help set you up for future success. The STEM Academy helps students build strong root systems through Problem Based Learning, professional skills like teamwork and communication, and introduces students to experiences within a variety of STEM fields.
The roots are followed by the branches of the tree. After starting your foundation, the branch helps you research the different types of jobs and the different levels there are in a career. The branches cover anywhere between entry level careers, to technical careers and professional careers. The branch system helps students research the different lifestyles that you can have within the different levels of the tree and helps you find the general needs to be apart of the different branches. The goal is for students to research different careers and choose careers based on what type of lifestyle they would like to have after high school. The tree helps students focus on a passion and how they can accomplish their goal at any level on the tree.
Lastly, you have the leaves. Each student will have a leaf on the tree with their name and chosen career. Students are always able to update their leaf to reflect new learning and passions while still providing a goal to reach.
Ask your STEMer about their Career Tree! Let them share their current leaf and how they are working towards that goal each day.
Motivation on Wheels
Roadtrip Nation is an organization dedicated to motivate people to define their own road in life. Roadtrip Nation members travel the nation in their RVs to schools and workplaces to encourage people that their dream career can be accomplished. All it takes is some hard work and effort.
Members of the Roadtrip Nation team came and brought their show to the STEM Academy. During their show we did a few activities, including one we did which involved writing our two biggest interests down and combining them together to create our dream career. This really gave us an insight of what field of work we may want to look into. STEM Junior Sunny Curtis said, “This really gave me a boost and set of ideas of what career I want to do.” This shows how inspiring Roadtrip Nation can be and what it can do for you.
Another activity we did was about calling a business that involves your ideal career to get some information about it. For example, a student was called up during the Roadtrip Nation presentation and asked what career he was interested in, to which he said he was interested in working with cars. One of the Roadtrip Nation members looked up local mechanics and called them for more information about the job, and what it was like. This gave the student a better understanding of what the job was like and what to expect.
Roadtrip Nation was a very inspiring and fun experience. It reached out to the students and helped achieve a better understanding of what they want to do in life. Roadtrip Nation is changing lives and getting people to get out there and pursue their dream jobs.
Fun OLC Trip
Every Fall, the entire STEM Academy gets a break from the countless projects and assignments to go to the NISD Outdoor Learning Center (OLC). During this day, we practice team building, problem solving, and socialization with our fellow STEM students. I asked people about how their overall OLC experience was and what some of their favorite activities were.
The first STEMer interviewed was James Kolkmeier. James is a junior this year and has been to every OLC trip so far. “This OLC trip gave my class much more freedom to walk around and explore the nature,” commented James when asked about the changes to this year’s activities. STEMers must have loved this freedom because of the free and creative thinking styles STEM students are taught. Next, James was asked what his favorite activity was and he said that “My favorite activity was the bingo scavenger hunt because it was new and different.” The scavenger hunt gave STEM students the ability to roam the OLC and find objects to eventually win Bingo. Finally, he was asked how the overall OLC experience was this year. James stated that “The OLC this year was very fun and this was my favorite trip so far.”
The second STEMer interviewed was Brandon Torres, a sophomore in the STEM Academy. Brandon told us that he felt this OLC trip gave the students a lot more freedom, a common standpoint among returning STEMers. “My favorite activity that we did at the OLC was the scavenger hunt, because it allowed us to walk around and explore,” said Brandon about his favorite activity during the day. It seems that everyone really enjoyed the OLC this year and loved the activities. Brandon told us about the teamwork aspect of the activities at the OLC, “The activity inside the OLC facility was very challenging and required everyone to work as a team.” The activity in question was a problem solving game that required the STEMers to find clues around the room to open the various locks on a safe with a special prize in it. Finally, Brandon told us how he’s going to apply the skills he learned, “I will write down all of my thoughts and keep good documentation when working on a project.” The STEMers thoroughly enjoyed this outing and were appreciative for the reprieve from classwork.
This OLC trip was very fun and gave students the chance to walk around and explore the OLC much more than any of our last trips. The trip gave STEM students the chance to take a break from the usual stressfulness of everyday schoolwork.. Many STEM students cannot wait for the fun, team building activities of next year’s Fall OLC trip.
Spectacular Staff: Mrs. Goodwin
The STEM academy has been around for some time, with changes occurring every now and then. Just last year, a new teacher had been introduced to the science department of the academy, specifically biology. To give an insight on who Mrs. Goodwin is, we’ve given her this Spectacular Staff spotlight where we can all get to know her a little better.
Mrs. Goodwin started last year as the STEM Biology teacher for both Freshman and Sophomores. She now teaches only Freshman, of both STEM and regular Biology classes. She told us how she decided to become a teacher, “I had two serious spine injuries, so I was no longer allowed to work in an operating room. So I decided to head with a career in education.” Mrs. Goodwin wanted to teach at a high school level so she can better connect with students and help us look past high school to our futures. When asked about the STEM Academy educational environment, she told us that it “Works well in putting students through real world examples,” as she truly enjoys teaching us in the unique curriculum that is offered by our school. Besides teaching, Mrs. Goodwin enjoys watching us grow and mature as both students and people, especially in our presentation skills.
In addition to teaching, Mrs. Goodwin enjoys working out, but had to take a break after surgery to remove a piece of her collarbone. Slowly but surely, however, she was able to recover and is now able to enjoy her routine just as well as before the surgery. She also happens to have two dogs, which she loves greatly and considers to be her “children”. Mrs. Goodwin is a magnificent and well-loved teacher, and many in the STEM Academy consider her to be a favorite even after only one year, regardless of class.
Astounding Aerospace Achievements
A few lucky seniors in the advanced aerospace class got the chance to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. They were invited to present the flight profile of their team rocket, which is designed to simulate the flight path of a rocket and tell them data such as speed, altitude, and acceleration during the flight. They presented it to a NASA engineer and received feedback, which will help them to evaluate the design of their spring semester project rocket, which is meant to break the sound barrier. According to two of the students, Wesley Miller and Cameron Hunter, there was plenty there to make the trip worthwhile.
After a lot of sleeping on the car ride there, they finally reached the Johnson Space Center. As for the environment of the people, however, they described it as very friendly and relaxed, despite the few sections blocked off by armed guards. They even got to have a rare encounter when, as Wesley put it, “We accidentally met the head engineer.” There were many interesting things to look at such as the Space Shuttle Independence on top of a 747 carrier, and the Saturn V rocket. Cameron was astonished by the rocket, explaining, “To think how that super large piece of equipment managed to get into space was kinda breathtaking.”
It wasn’t all fun and games, though, because they still had their presentation to take care of, and despite a few snags in the math and use of excel beforehand, they were proud to say it went off without a hitch. Even though there were around 150 teens in suits there to present, they were one of the very few teams that had a solid, rehearsed presentation, which gave them a huge advantage. They even were the very first team ever to attempt to calculate the thrust of their rocket. Wesley whimsically exclaimed, “We got it wrong but we tried!”
Overall they learned quite a lot about space travel, as well as how everything runs in aerospace engineering. They’re pretty confident they could make their trans-sonic rocket now, but they know that they are very far off from being able to make an actual rocket that travels through space. Wesley put it well, saying that, “We’re probably just tip of the iceberg.” All in all, it was an extremely successful trip, and Cameron was very hopeful for the future saying that, “I wanna work there when I’m older.” A huge thank you to these students for representing our academy with such excellence at an important event like this!
Success after Graduation: Tate Stearns
Northwest High School offers many programs such as the Agricultural Academy and the CMP academy but one of the most popular, project based programs Northwest has to offer is STEM. In STEM, everyone learns “hands on learning” so that they can complete a task and learn how to manage their time well. Tate Stearns, a former STEM student, is one great example of all of these skills being applied in the real world for his after high school dreams and career.
Tate Stearns graduated with the 2017 class from the STEM academy. With aspiring dreams to take the skills he learned in STEM and apply them to the real world. Tate is a student attending college to become a welding engineer. In his spare time Tate is an avid user of hands on work such as working on his truck and welding or doing metal work. Tate was asked, “What do you plan to be after college and what are the requirements for the job?” Which he responded with, “I am going to school to be a welding engineer one must take into consideration all of the aspects of a manufacturing product. A welding engineer must also be AWS (American Welding Society) certified to even be considered for the job and I choose this career path because the possibilities are almost endless. The careers I would like to go into would not even have to be STEM related it could be wherever I please to do my work.”
Tate talked about how his time in STEM helped him prepare for college and the real world. Tate was asked, “Do you think STEM helped you outside of high school?” He responded with, “STEM has really helped me plan out my future. So I really know what's next, from time management to the hands on skill. I am thankful for every ounce of confidence the academy put into me because it gave me the work ethic I have today.”
The STEM academy is not just a academy for people who want to go into some a STEM job because the skills in STEM can be applied anywhere and make you excel in the workplace even more. As his final statement Tate stated “I feel ahead of the other students and ahead of my coworkers because of my experience in the Academy.”
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UIL Spotlight: Blake Kaercher
As the Texans line up to kickoff, you may notice Number 5 setting the ball and walking back to break the huddle for kickoff. That player is none other than Blake Kaercher. Blake is the Varsity Kicker for the team, leading the team on both Kickoffs and Field Goals. We sat down to ask him some questions about his school and football career.
Despite his least favorite part being all the conditioning and weightlifting, Blake is involved with track and field outside of STEM, which he runs the 4x400 relay in. But he also really enjoys how the Football team is a family and has as much fun as possible.
We began with asking how he got into football and more specifically, being a kicker. He says, “I have always been interested in Football. Before I was a kicker, I was playing receiver and one day the coaches had tryouts for kickers. I went and tried out and ended up being good at it and have stuck with it ever since.” And with football season ending this past November, we asked how he felt about this past season. “I felt we did pretty good for what we had. We have a lot to improve over this next off-season,” answered Blake. During the season, he practiced from 6:45 in the morning to the end of 1st period, which ended roughly around 9:20. During which, he focused mostly on being precise with where the ball landed and his ability to kick the ball far.
With Football entering the off season, the next sport we will get the chance to see Blake in is Track and Field, which starts up around end of January. The STEM Academy would like to congratulate the Football team for doing a great job this year and can’t wait for next year!
Shoot for the Sky!
November 10th, the launch day of Aerospace 1’s miniature rockets, was a spectacle to behold. Throughout the day, each class shot off their rocket one by one filling the air with their loud screeches. But the project wasn’t only launching the rockets; behind the scenes all of the students were making precise measurements to make sure their rockets would actually fly. “It opened my eyes to how much there was to actually do when making a rocket,” said one Aerospace student Conner McGregor. Many things were taken into consideration when making the rockets, including wing similarity, which prevents swaying momentum during rocket flight, calibrating the mass of the rocket in order to maintain a good center of gravity to maximize flight, and having to ensure other attributes of the rocket were in check.
Preparing the rockets for launch took nearly two weeks and was fairly basic due to being an introductory project to teach students about how forces can affect the rocket when in the air. Preparation started with the creation of the basic form of the rocket including the outer tube, inner tube, fitting the motor as well as centering pieces, and “A lot of rebuilding,” according to Neo Mchaffie, a Junior Aerospace student. After constructing the base of the rocket we proceeded to do calculations to find how much mass needs to be added to move the center of gravity in front of the center of pressure a certain length in order to maintain rocket stability. To quote Junior Corbett Daae,“Is this what being a NASA scientist is like? How does this work?” Finally, after doing quick fixes to the rockets we had to wait 4 days for the weather to be optimal for launching.
Launch day was dedicated to launching all rockets in each respective class that Ms. Mitias had. Each launch team was composed of two people who made their rocket and had to check to ensure both the airspace and the roads were clear before launch. During each launch there were people recording the launches in real time and slow motion. Launch day was as much dedicated to fun as it was to testing the rockets
In short, the Rocket PBL was an introductory project to teach students about the mechanics of rockets. The PBL intertwined complicated information with interesting hands-on methods of learning it. Overall, all students including myself enjoyed and learned from the project. When closing out of the project nearly everything had been covered to the point that there wasn’t much left to be desired, the most sought after part that everyone was hoping for was more launching but in reality one day was more than enough for every launch. The Rocket PBL was a short project that captivated everyone as well as taught them what they needed to learn.
Carl E. Schluter Day is celebrated every year on November 3, at Carl E. Schluter elementary school. It is a day in the year that the kids get to do fun activities to celebrate the namesake of their school. Some of the activities they had this year included going on a haybale ride, making their own chocolate pie, learning what it takes to build things like solar cars, and even playing video games. The event planner and teacher, Ms. Smith, explains the activities, “Throughout the day we plan learning experiences based on the passions and interests of Mr. Schluter.” According to her, Carl E. Schluter was an educator who loved physics, math, agriculture, and engineering. The day is meant to celebrate the school’s namesake with fun and educational activities for students.
“We are especially excited about the development of our new STEAM LAB and how it will play an integral part of our day,” commented Ms. Smith. STEAM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, and LAB stands for “Learning and Be imaginative”. Continuing, Ms. Smith said, “This designated lab in our building will provide our students with the tools and space needed for dynamic hands on learning experiences.”
This year we sent representatives from the Northwest AG Department and the STEM Academy to the event. The STEM Academy helped students use robots called "Dash" and iPads to learn basic coding and programming. All of the experiences that our STEM seniors were able to give to the children during this event can help bring bright, new, excited students ready to learn all about the different careers and classes that the STEM fields encompass.
The day finished with pumpkin launching from a trebuchet. The STEM Seniors helped set up and launch the character pumpkins in the field next to Schluter. The trebuchet was designed by a father-son team of 4th grade students. With a few duct tape adjustments, it was ready to fling pumpkins!
Schluter Day is about celebrating the accomplishments and interests of Carl Schluter, and each year the STEM Academy loves being a part of it.
A Nobel Effort
Near the beginning of October, the outstanding Nobel Laureates for the year’s awards were announced. Among them included the physicists responsible for detecting gravitational waves and contributions to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave) detectors, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, and scientists who respectively unravelled the mysteries of the circadian rhythm and developed cryo-electron microscopy. Each laureate, of the scientists, contributed a great service to their field which will allow for even greater discovery as research continues.
The physics award was granted to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne for their work in detection of gravitational waves and their great contributions to the development of LIGO detectors. Gravitational waves were originally predicted by Einstein as a part of his theory of general relativity, and were described as ripples in the very fabric of spacetime caused by highly destructive and energetic events. Even after the confirmation of the existence of gravitational waves, evidence was indirect until September 14, 2015, when LIGO directly sensed the gravitational waves of 2 black holes colliding 1.3 billion light years away. This discovery is a great discovery for the field of physics, and will greatly help our understanding of the universe.
The laureates for the chemistry award were certainly no slouch, either. A new microscope technology, developed by Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson, called cryo-electron microscopy, makes it much easier to see biomolecules and processes within by freezing the biomolecule, making the electron microscope imaging much clearer. As a direct result of this discovery, the field of biochemistry is brimming with incredibly accurate images of biomolecules otherwise too difficult to completely isolate or accurately image.
Speaking of biology, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young have managed to crack the circadian rhythm, the biological clock that allows all living things to anticipate and adapt to the cycle of the day. By studying fruit flies, the scientists were able to isolate a gene which encodes a protein that accumulates at night and diminishes during the day. In this study they also found other protein components of this mechanism, opening up the inner workings of the mysterious biological clock. It has since been recognized that the clock functions upon the same principles in the cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans. The internal biological clock regulates many functions of the body, including behaviors, hormone levels, sleep, blood pressure, and metabolism, and has been carefully calibrated to keep us adapted to the external factors of our environment.
Of course, this is not to discount ICAN and its efforts to call to attention the damages caused by nuclear weapons and to establish lasting treaties to abolish nuclear weapons, or Kazuo Ishiguro’s incredibly compelling literary works. Nobel Week starts on December 6th and ends December 12th, constituting lectures from the laureates over their respective fields and the awards ceremony on December 10th.
Robotics Team Grows
The Robotics Team in STEM is a team of people working together to create a robot for various courses that change every year. They also work year round even if it not working on the robot. For example, persuading 8th graders to join STEM or helping out with the community during the school wide Big Event which is when the school gives back to our community and does jobs that people need done.
The Robotics team meets in Room 727 on Wednesdays during iNvest to discuss plans for the next competition, new ideas, or plans to get involved the the community. When competitions start they start to meet twice or up to four times a week after school in addition to the Wednesday iNvest meeting. The team itself, however, is much more than just building robots; the team consists of several sub-teams which cover design, 3D printing, creation of a business plan, spirit, and programming.
A “pit”, that is designed and created by the spirit team, is used in competitions to market a robot, and decorated based on the themes in the competitions. The spirit team which is a sub-team handles making pamphlets or other items to hand out to other teams looking at other pits or judges. The robot building process uses one of the first things learned in STEM, the Engineering Design Process, which is essential for any engineer to design and build a successful project, and is a major component the Robotics team uses, and they treat robot-making as just another project to tackle.
Competitions in robotics include BEST and FIRST. BEST is the first competition to come around that our team participates in. It is then followed by a 3-month break used for cleaning and preparation for FIRST. FIRST is a worldwide robotics competition our Robotics team participates in, they start building in January and are off to compete in March. When the Robotics team starts FIRST it is a all out effort to get everything ready and running for the competition. All of the sub-teams get together for a week and plan and start to design on a new pit and a new robot that fits the tasks that have been shown in the trailer.
Excitement in the Skies
The member that was chosen for helping answer some questions about the Alliance Air Show is Aileen Bernes, we also looked at the Alliance Air Show’s website for some information. Aileen Bernes was chosen because she was with a group of people that went to the Alliance Air Show to represent CTE (Career and Technical Education).
The Alliance Air Show is a show that is one of the largest and most successful air shows in America, ”It showcases our nation’s armed forces and Dallas-Fort Worth’s Important aerospace and aviation industries.” The airshow also is put on by trained pilots to achieve the goal of “giving back to the community and to support, sustain and grow the areas aviation legacy by honoring our military and veterans, raising funds for local non-profit organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.” Since 2006 The Airshow has donated over $620,000 to more than 60 non-profit organizations. The Aishow also has places for kids to go and play, simulators, interactive rides, and helicopter rides.
Aileen Bernes stated that “Representatives were sent from our districts CTE program to spread the word about what CTE does for our students and options available to students that are within the Northwest ISD boundary.” The representatives were both from Eaton’s Aviation Academy, and the STEM Academy. “We had a booth set in the discovery zone and we handed out buildable cardstock airplanes and CTE bracelets. We also shared information about our senior practicum courses, which allows seniors to leave school for two class periods for an internship.” They are open to anyone who is interested to host interns from our district.
The Alliance Airshow is a great place for kids and for adults and that the money that was spend will go to non-profit organizations. The involvement of CTE This shows that the airshow is involved with their community and actively helping and providing money to non-profit foundations.
Second Annual STEM Fest
STEM Fest was an event held November 11, 2017. The purpose of the event was to give local 4th and 5th graders an idea of what not only the STEM academy offers but what the field of engineering is like from the perspective of a student. STEM Fest highlighted how the program can prepare you for any field you want to enter into in the future. Junior Juan Medina describes the event as, “a way that elementary kids can learn about engineering and the STEM academy through fun games and activities rather than PowerPoints and lectures”. This presentation method generated interest among many students.
An activity that took place at STEM Fest was the “rocket launch”. This activity consisted of building a “rocket” with limited supplies in a short period of time. Upon completion, the goals was to launch your “rocket”, which was made of straws and putty, the furthest by adjusting the launch angle and the nose mass. While students were not asked to do mathematical calculations for the activity, the problem solving that took place indicated that students understand the relationship between launch angle and mass.
Another challenge presented to participants at STEM Fest was to construct a watercraft utilizing only paper cups, tape, straws, and pennies. The craft was required to hold 25 or more pennies without sinking. The products varied in design, size amount of materials used. This challenge allowed them to experiment with buoyancy, mass and water displacement.
These challenges introduced students to creative problem solving, collaboration, scientific method and encouraged ingenuity while having a great deal of fun. STEM Fest is one of the methods used to promote the STEM program throughout Northwest ISD and encourage younger students to seek out and engage in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
During Fall, everyone is ready for the Winter season, Christmas, and that extra hour of sleep from the time change. Some people’s favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Halloween however. Many in the US enjoy the Halloween tradition of dressing in costume to collect candy and the Thanksgiving tradition of gathering with family to eat a home cooked feast.
A Thanksgiving enthusiast and student of the Northwest High School STEM Academy, Steven Besa is an avid member of the STEM Council. Steven told us about his favorite part of the holiday, “I love seeing all of the family members I haven’t seen in years and I get to eat a lot of food.” We also asked Steven about his favorite holiday traditions, to which he responded with, “Seeing all of the family, going Black Friday shopping, and putting up the Christmas tree for the next holiday.” Steven is a great all around student and is sharing his holiday cheer all around the school this year.
Another student interviewed was Nathan Kim, a member of both band and STEM. When asked which holiday he preferred, he said, “I am more of a fan of Halloween because of the massive amounts of free candy.” He told us about some of his favorite Halloween traditions, saying, “Going trick-or-treating with my friends and going to Halloween parties, I also enjoy giving out candy to people that come to my house to see all of the different costumes.”
Whether you’re a Thanksgiving fan or a Halloween fan they both have their benefits. Halloween, according to the interviews, is a time to load up on the candy and Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and have a nice home cooked feast.
Join us on May 25, 2018 for STEM Banquet