Senator Amy Klobuchar visited on Monday, April 9 to observe the school’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program. Students spoke with Sen. Klobuchar and showed her their projects during her visit.
Said Brad Thorpe, the instructor in charge of the STEM program, “The students did a nice job of communicating what they do at the classes and explaining the tie behind the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes.”
The junior and senior high schools use the STEM curriculum of Project Lead The Way, a national program for STEM education, Thorpe explained.
He said that the students carry out and design projects—the technology and engineering phase—and then they use math and science to prove and test their projects. For example, students could design and create a catapult, determine its performance, conduct a test, and then compare the two results.
Student interest in the program has grown since it started six years ago with only one class, Thorpe said. Next year the high school will offer five classes. The program is also expanding in other ways.
Currently components of STEM classes are available from the seventh through twelfth grades. Next school year, sixth graders will take a required STEM class called the Magic of Electrons, Thorpe said. One of the goals of the STEM program, he explained, is to help girls realize that they can succeed in the areas of technology and engineering. Starting such classes in sixth grade is a good step towards accomplishing that goal.
Mayor Brad Tabke, school board members, and community members involved as mentors in the program were among those present during Sen. Klobuchar’s visit.