Flagstaff Unified high schools take the “E” in STEM to new Levels
Sections    Thursday May 6th, 2021
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Flagstaff Unified high schools take the “E” in STEM to new Levels

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  • Karin Eberhard/Flagstaff Unified School District

Coconino High School's Dave Tessmer Works With Students In His Engineering Classes. Photo Courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is an integral part of education in every school in Flagstaff Unified School District and at every grade level.

At the high school level both Coconino and Flagstaff High Schools take the engineering in STEM education to an amazing level.

Flagstaff Unified high schools take the “E” in STEM to new Levels EnvironmentalScienceTessmerHP

Coconino High School’s Dave Tessmer works with students in his engineering classes. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

As part of the Coconino Institute of Technology (CIT) program at Coconino High School, Dave Tessmer’s goal for his CIT Engineering classes is to give the students the opportunity to learn about and use many different engineering disciplines. He uses the Arduino Microprocessor to introduce his students to programming and electronics.

During the first year, Tessmer’s class spends four to five weeks learning about basic circuitry and progresses from there into higher level programming and circuitry. By the third year in this program the students become more creative with the tools that they have learned and embark on their capstone project in which they are asked to tackle a real world problem with the knowledge that they have learned.

Mr. Tessmer commented, “In CIT, we want our students to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, design and create, test prototypes, communicate results and start the whole process again. The Arduino Microprocessor gives them another tool which they can use to prototype and test their ideas.”

Coconino High School also offers a Career and Technical Education program that Craig Howdeshell has been building over the last three years. The program is called the Panther Engineering Group (PEG) and is based on the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way program (PLTW): Pathway to Engineering.

According to Mr. Howdeshell, “This is the most robust high school program in FUSD and possibly all of Northern Arizona.”

Not only do students learn the best practices of engineers in the field, build prototypes, work with top tier software, they can also earn up to 15 credits through a Dual Enrollment agreement with Coconino Community College.

Nine credits in drafting, 3 in machining, and if they complete a dual enrollment course of pre-calculus or calculus they can earn another 3 credits for Introduction to Engineering that will transfer from CCC to NAU’s engineering degree program.

The enrollment fees are waved in these Career and Technical Education courses. The courses offered by Mr. Howdeshell are:

Introduction to Engineering

Principle of Engineering

Aerospace Engineering

4th year Capstone class

In all classes students work with local, state, national, and even international partners preparing students to be digital global citizens and competitors.

Mr. Howdeshell is also the STEAM club advisor at CHS. He calls it STEAM because the Arts are an integral part of STEM and should not be left out.

The STEAM club takes part in the Skills USA program where students can get more training and compete in a field of their interest. This CTE Program is also supported by Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT).

Aerospace Engineering is a new class and Flagstaff High School. The class incudes: Coding, Electronics and Design for Aircraft and Spacecraft and is being taught by Bruce Sidlinger.

Students will learn how to: Work inside computers and install and configure the Linux operating system on a network; Program desktop PC’s, use micro controllers such as Arduinos to put tiny computers wherever they need for automation, Use sensors including pressure, humidity, temperature, light and radiation for experiments 20 miles overhead and use actuators and computer-aided design software to 3D print housings and moving parts.

Students in this class will also learn about aviation, including Federal Aviation regulations, meteorology, the airspace and air traffic control system and will use all of this knowledge to launch a near-space research balloon in April as a team entered in the 2016 Global Space Balloon Challenge.