Sonoma high engineering pathway under way
With 55 10th-grade students enrolled and more expressing interest, Sonoma Valley High School’s engineering, design and technology pathway is off to a strong start this fall, thanks to a great deal of hard work and planning by the team teachers, administrators and district staff this summer.
We kicked off the summer in June with a week of training for teachers through STEM101, an organization that provides curriculum and instruction for teaching engineering principles and standards (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
In July, the team of teachers went to Washington, D.C., to attend a conference for the National Academy Foundation, which sponsors the STEM101 curriculum and provides strategies and structure for academy settings in high schools across the nation.
After returning from D.C., our teachers spent two weeks designing and planning the structure and curriculum for the high school implementation of the engineering, design and technology pathway.
The enrolled 10th-graders begin by taking an elective in “Introduction to Engineering and Design,” which will focus on the background and history of engineering, and the general problem-solving strategies and standards required for the discipline. Students will also gain a basic knowledge of the different types of engineering fields, as well as an introduction to Solidworks, an industry standard for 3D computer drafting and design.
The team of teachers will be led by Kelly Kennedy, the math teacher for the pathway and an engineering major in college. The engineering course will be taught by Mark Lea, also the school’s metal shop teacher, who possesses a strong industry background in mechanics and computer-aided machinery. Dean Knight will lead the physics course, Don Lyons and Barbie Duncan will teach English and history, and Betzy Chavez will be the counselor for the program. All have eclectic and valuable industry backgrounds that will create a work-based learning environment for our students.
Students will go on to enhance their skills in a “Principles of Engineering” elective in their junior year, followed by a capstone course and an internship during their senior year. All courses will be taught under the notion that project-based learning, high standards and a team-taught curriculum will ultimately lead to student success in school, and after graduation.
The success of the Small Learning Communities for our freshmen – the freshman teams – provided a foundation for these pathways as they are structured similarly with many levels of student support, engagement and parent communication. Over the course of this pathway, students will have access to industry standard technology and software, project-based learning, and work-based learning experiences while maintaining the same academic rigor and expectations that have defined SVHS for years.
We are very excited and optimistic about the potential of this pathway and the future benefits awarded our students by the continuation of the freshman teams. It is an exciting time at Sonoma High and we will continue to keep the community apprised of our efforts to provide the best possible education to Sonoma teens.
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Andrew Ryan is vice principal at Sonoma Valley High School.