Streetsboro -- This year, Streetsboro High School implemented a STEM class, offered through a non-profit national organization, Project Lead the Way.
The class is the district's second of its kind. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, was introduced at Streetsboro Middle School last year by teacher Rich Day.
The new high school course is called Introduction to Engineering Design and is offered to students from grades 9 through 12.
"In this course, students use 3D software to solve problems," said Tom Fesemeyer, STEM teacher. "It exposes students to the design process."
Project Lead the Way required Fesemeyer to receive training to teach the class. Training took place in Dayton in June of this year. The 10-day training session had classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and into the evening after a two-hour dinner break.
"We did a year's worth of curriculum in two weeks," said Fesemeyer.
The class was added after a proposal to the Board of Education, he added.
"I paired up with Rich Day at the middle school, and we put a presentation on at the March board meeting," he said. "It was a little slow-going, but the Board of Education was 100 percent behind it."
Project Lead the Way can be implemented from fourth grade through 12th grade. Day's middle school class, called Gateway to Technology, establishes the principles of STEM. The program will eventually expand into more classes, starting with Principles of Engineering. This class will be a follow-up to Introduction to Engineering Design.
Students will soon be able to take a STEM class every year in high school, said Fesemeyer.
"The fourth class would be a capstone, where you design, build and test like an engineer," said Fesemeyer. "It's very in-depth."
The middle school class is not a pre-requisite for the Introduction to Engineering Design, but it does give students more of a background.
After Introduction to Engineering Design was approved, the traditional wood shop room was split, and 24 computers and a smart board were installed, creating a STEM lab. The class requires the use of engineering technology, including a program called AutoCAD Inventor, a high-end drafting program which enables students to draw parts in 3D.
"One of the projects will be drawing pieces of a train and assembling them," said Fesemeyer. "So they will have to be drawn properly or they won't fit together."
Introduction to Engineering students will use a program called Learning Management System.
"All the equipment comes to us through this," he said. "They can access it at school and at home. Ninety-percent of what we do in class is through the LMS.
LMS divides the class into chapters, giving students various activities to work through in a Powerpoint-based lesson designed by Project Lead the Way.
The class did a paper bridge project, for which students had to suspend paper over the farthest difference possible just by manipulating the paper; no tape was provided.
"One group went 39 5/8 inches," he said. "It was a pretty good stretch to take that paper and manipulate it to get it to go across two blocks."
Students Nick Fazio, a senior, said the class provides a good foundation for further pursuing a degree in engineering.
"I'm getting this experience here instead of college," said Fazio. "Having this background is kind of nice so I'll know if I want to do engineering in college."
Junior Charles Rhome said he enjoys the hands-on nature of the class.
"STEM is more hands-on than a math or science class where you just sit and get lectured for 45 minutes to an hour," he said. "This is preparing you for the next step in life, college or a career."
Fesemeyer said the high school is going to work with Kent State University and the University of Akron to see if college credit could be available to students who enroll in the STEM classes throughout their high school career.