Archive for Thursday, April 9, 2009

Engineering prep program challenges DHS students

April 9, 2009

Just in its first year, the De Soto High School’s Project Lead the Way program has earned national certification.

Project Lead the Way is a pre-engineering program that provides ground-level education for students to develop backgrounds in science and engineering.

“It usually takes a good handful of years to get established and certified,” Peter Harley, instructor said. “Certification shows that we had all the supplies and materials and student work standards needed.”

Certification allows students to receive college credit for work they have done in the Project Lead the Way program. Harley said at the end of the year students take a standardized test and if they score above 80 percent they can receive college credit toward an engineering school.

The program currently has 50 students, Harley said. The majority are sophomores.

“Because it’s a four-year program, we recruited younger students,” he said. “For next year, we have had over 100 students sign up. So we have a lot of freshmen entering the program.”

Each year of the program focuses on a different subject relating to engineering.

The first year, the students have learned 3D software.

The second year is centered more on building. One project example is building a car powered by a mousetrap that can make a certain distance then stop, Harley said.

Year three explores digital electronics and year four will cover biotechnical engineering.

“It’s going to keep growing,” Harley said. “The bond issues passed recently, and we are building on to the school and there is going to be an entire classroom dedicated to this program.”

Parker Williams, sophomore, said the class was challenging.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s challenging and everyday you have to dedicate yourself to the work.”

Harley said the district has put a lot of effort into promoting the program.

“It has taken off real well,” he said. “There are only four or so school in Kansas that are certified. Some programs collapse.”

Next year, the school will offer second-year classes along with the introduction course. An additional teacher will take over some courses, Harley said.

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