Bond passage provides for STEM lab

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The school will be a construction zone for years to come with the May 10 passage of Proposition 1 and 2 as many new additions and renovations will be coming to campus, including a 1500 square-foot laboratory for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

“The STEM lab will be a learning environment where students can roll up their sleeves and work,” AP Chemistry teacher and Science Coordinator Jason Taylor said. “Science labs are equipped with all of the glassware, electronics and workspace needed to give our students a high-quality laboratory experience. More importantly, it will have more space to house larger equipment and tools.”

While students in a variety of courses ranging from freshman biology to AP Calculus BC will have the opportunity to use the lab, engineering students will be using the lab most frequently.

“In my present room we’re pretty much overloaded,” engineering teacher Brian Lidington said. “[The STEM lab] will give me much more space and it’ll give us the ability to actually create our own robots instead of working from kits. So we can have the power tools and we can have the creative tools to design them ourselves and do top level robots, which is what the juniors and seniors will eventually do.”

The lab will hold computers for robotics and engineering software as well as shop equipment, which will be a welcome change for STEM students.

“Right now we really have no shop capability to do stuff,” Lidington said. “And that’s going to give us the ability to take what we develop on the software and make it physically, out of metal or plastic or whatever we have.”

“Most students that will make use of the STEM lab will be involved in the sequence of courses that are part of Project Lead The Way,” Taylor said. “Examples of projects would include designing and building wind turbines in Principles of Engineering, rockets in Aerospace Engineering, or robots in the Digital Electronics and Robotics Club.”

The resources of the STEM lab will also be available for students wishing to pursue independent research and studies in the STEM fields.

“The STEM lab will also be available for students working on independent projects associated with the Engineering Design and Development course or on their senior project,” Taylor said. “Often these students require space to set up an experiment or project where they can work on it safely over time. Our regular science classrooms are not designed to accommodate long-term science and engineering projects.”

The STEM lab will not only meet the needs for more space and resources for a growing student enrollment, but will also meet the pressing need for stronger STEM education that is facing the entire nation.

“It is a chance for students to learn basic skills using tools, equipment and resources that are not required in regular science labs,” Taylor said. “It is very important for students in STEM-related fields to have a strong background in their content area. These skills allow students to develop into more well-rounded scientists and engineers who can function more freely and effectively in the STEM workforce.”