Students embrace learning through Engineer Your World curriculum

November 6, 2017

Langham Creek senior Kylie Gutierrez presents the pinhole camera she and senior Kyle Poerschke designed and constructed Nov. 2 at a symposium at the school.
Langham Creek senior Kylie Gutierrez presents the pinhole camera she and senior Kyle Poerschke designed and constructed Nov. 2 at a symposium at the school. 

Nov. 6, 2017—CFISD high school students in engineering and problem solving classes wrapped up their first design challenge of the year, doing so through the University of Texas’ UTeach Engineering curriculum program, Engineer Your World.

Engineer Your World is made possible though a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The innovative, yearlong high school course is for students who want to learn about engineering and its role in shaping the world. The 2017-2018 school year marks the fifth year for the course to be offered.

In the initial design challenge, The Evolution of Imagery, students were tasked with building a pinhole camera for an arts program that works with disabled individuals with limited hand dexterity.

Langham Creek seniors RJ Lighthall (right) and Mateo Richardson (black top) answer questions from Engineer Your World symposium visitor Chris Black on Nov. 2 at Langham Creek.
Langham Creek High School students in Marissa Logrono’s three class periods presented their designs in a symposium for professional engineers, guests, parents and community members on Nov. 2. The presentations were a “real-life” element Logrono wanted to add to the challenge.

“The technical requirement is a written set of manufacturing and user instructions,” Logrono said. “For me, I just really feel strongly that although that step is important, in the real world, you would never just deliver that to a client and say, ‘Here’s the stuff.’ You’re going to have to talk to them.

“When (engineering firms) saw what they were doing, they were so impressed with the students’ ability to gauge their audience and being to talk with whoever it was, whether it be their mom or an engineer.”

Representatives from Flotek were among the visitors who circled the room asking questions to students as they presented their designs, photographs and research.

Also among the visitors was Dr. Clay Anderson, a science teacher at Kinkaid School which is scheduled to begin the program next school year.

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I’m very impressed with the student engagement. They have some ownership and you can tell that they spend some time on these projects,” said Anderson, who has his doctoral degree in engineering. “One of my concerns is how much engineering rigor is in the curriculum – my tendency is to try and prepare students for the rigor that they’re going to see. It seems like it gives a great picture of what it’s like to be an engineer.”

Engineer Your World curriculum is in more than 150 schools across the country including CFISD high schools, and is offered with a dual enrollment option so students can earn three engineering elective credits at UT system schools. Marie Girardot, recruitment support specialist for the program, attended the Langham Creek symposium.

Seniors Lauryn Davis and Haley Habetz partnered in the project, sharing their thoughts that the best – and worst – part of the challenge was actually taking the photographs.

“It was really stressful whenever we would go into the darkroom to develop our pictures and it would be black,” Davis said. “But the best part was also the same thing – taking the pictures.”

In addition to designing and constructing pinhole cameras that worked with disabled individuals with limited hand dexterity, students also presented their research and photographs at the Engineer Your World symposium Nov. 2 at Langham Creek.
In addition to designing and constructing pinhole cameras that worked with disabled individuals with limited hand dexterity, students also presented their research and photographs at the Engineer Your World symposium Nov. 2 at Langham Creek.

Added Habetz: “Once it did turn out, you’d say to yourself, ‘Finally, this is what we’ve been working for this whole time.’ And some came out really good.”

It’s come a long way from the small group of students Logrono had her first year teaching the program. But it’s allowed Logrono to bring real life to the classroom.

One of the things that I really like about this particular course is it is a really nice overview or snapshot of many of the things that any profession is going to see,” she said. “Not just the science class. Not just a technology class. Not just an English class.

Langham Creek senior Niko Forlini (left) speaks with Engineer Your World symposium visitor Dr. Clay Anderson. Forlini and partner Prab Rai designed and constructed a pinhole camera that works with disabled individuals with limited hand dexterity.
Langham Creek senior Niko Forlini (left) speaks with Engineer Your World symposium visitor Dr. Clay Anderson. Forlini and partner Prab Rai designed and constructed a pinhole camera that works with disabled individuals with limited hand dexterity.

“I ask them to take what they learned about technical writing in English, what they learned about physics, what they learn about algebra and what they learned about this, and bring it all together.”

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