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Students filed into Justin Line’s engineering classroom with engineering plans, rulers and ideas to plot out the building design for the weight room of the athletic complex at Elizabethtown High School.
The students’ task is to redesign the weight room because the original plans changed in shape and size. The class has to readapt the plans to the new dimensions and present their plans to the school for consideration in the new complex.
It's a chance for the engineering students to apply their knowledge to a real task and it could earn them a hefty reward.
Line’s class is working on the project because they are in the top 25 of a nationwide competition to win a $75,000 Samsung grant. The class will submit a two-minute video showing students using what they’ve learned to give back to the community.
The class is creating the layout to scale, measuring and plotting each piece of equipment for the room. Then, they use design software to create a 3-D image of the room including doors and windows.
The students are experiencing what happens in the real world of engineering, Line said.
The class has built other engineering skills leading up to this project. They’ve worked with 3-D modeling with simple shapes. In one project, they created a computer-generated toy model and then were able to see it work on screen.
For a future reverse engineering project, students will take something mechanical apart and figure out how it was put together, why it was built that way and what the purpose of each piece was.
The class is funded by Project Lead the Way, a national provider of science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum in middle and high schools.
It’s the first year for EHS to participate in PLTW.
The engineering class is an elective course and available to freshmen through seniors. Last year, 120 students expressed an interest in the class. Five sections were creatied with 24 students per class, the max allowed by PLTW guidelines. More classes will be added each year.
The goal is to provide classes to help focus those interested in studying engineering in college, Line said.
Line graduated from the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville and experienced firsthand the struggle to do extra work to keep up with those who had engineering classes in high school.
At least half of the students in Line’s engineering classes say they are interested in seeing what a field in engineering has to offer and several seniors are applying to engineering schools.
Some came in thinking they weren’t interested in engineering but the class changed their mind, Line said. Having this background to see firsthand what an engineer does is an eye opener to a lot of kids.
Sophomore Chas Warden wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in the future but took the class to get an idea about a career in engineering.
In the class he can apply things he’s learned in other classes to practical issues.
“This class helps get the ball rolling in being able to visualize other problems and situations that you are presented with in other classes,” he said.
Sabrina Schwartz, a freshman, was strongly encouraged by her mother, an engineer, to take this class. At first Schwartz didn’t think she would like it but soon realized it was fun and she learned it was about more than just math and science. It was about everything that can improve everyday lives, she said.
At first she didn’t really understand math and science but this class has helped her “put the knowledge to it,” she said.
One project was creating puzzle cubes using equations, the same ones she did in math. She didn’t really understand the equations in the math class until she got the hands on experience in the engineering class.
Senior Mark Noblin had a similar experience.
He is taking statistics and at the beginning of the year concepts in statistics weren’t interesting. But through the engineering class he started learning some of the same terms for measurements in making the puzzle cube that he learned in statistics. When he went back to his statistics class he felt he had a better understanding of what the terms actually were for instead of just putting a definition to it.
“I guess the best way to describe the class is all those equations you learn in math and science that you really don’t know what they’re for, this class shows you that you can actually use those in the real world to make something new or fix a problem that needs solving,” Noblin said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.