Project Title: Endeavor
Project Mission: Create and maintain a Research and Development lab where students struggle to solve real world challenges dealing with sustainability
Why: Increased student engagement, increased numbers of students pursuing STEM careers and studies post-secondary, better prepared and skilled workforce for the Gorge for STEM.
Background: In the spring of 2009, Stan Felderman’s engineering class at The Dalles Wahtonka High School volunteered to solve the challenge of developing a pond cover for the Geodome at Colonel Wright Elementary, to allow for the pond to be used safely by young children for growing plants. Project managers from Google evaluated the work of each project team. Student engagement and learning were very impressive throughout the entire process. They developed a deep understanding of engineering and scientific content related to the project, and also exhibited many soft skills throughout the project.
What will it look like? A 2-hour block class for each grade level 9-10, each with 2 instructors and 50 students, and volunteer mentors from the STEM community. Students will work in project teams on the development of solutions to problems we face in sustainability (food, water, fuel, health, etc.). Solutions will be carried out to the design, build-out, and deploy stages. Final products will be evaluated by STEM professionals and researchers. Student work will be shared with the larger STEM community via several web/social media/live outlets/events. We have decided to move away from the scripted Project Lead The Way Engineering program and will instead be designing our own four year sequence of courses as follows:
- Grade 9 - Alternative Energy (Solar, wind, biomass, hydro, biofuels, etc)
- Grade 10 – Living Systems (animal, plant, human, ecosystems)
Depending on the success of the project, we are looking to add grade 11 in the 2013-2014 year, and grade 12 in the 2014-2015 year:
Who will be involved? We have many commitments from local companies, government entities, and non-profits. We have commitments from several university faculty to serve as mentors.
What do we need? We are seeking commitments from higher education, and local tech and engineering industry partners for donations of employee time (to serve as mentors and evaluators) and also for used/outdated equipment, tools, and supplies.
What is the timeframe? We are working on several contingency plans involving various levels of funding. It is our hope to start the project in the fall of 2012, even if it is with only 1 grade level.
What resources do we need in order to pull this off? A healthy number of STEM mentors from local industry are key; outdated equipment, tools, and technology for the STEM sector will also be critical to get us started. We are asking mentors to commit to one hour two times a month with our project teams. Face-to-face mentoring is the most powerful, but we would also invite virtual mentors, as well will have ample technology to allow for this.
How will this project benefit other projects, partners, our mission, our capacity, our community, the world? Imagine the impact that 50 highly trained, skilled, and motivated STEM engineers graduating from our high school each year will have on our local tech sector, and higher education partners that have established relationships with those students. Imagine what the positive outcomes of student projects could be for our community and the world each year.Connect to our Facebook page for continual updates on this wonderful project.