STEM NEWS

Parkside School is buzzing about STEM
NewsTribune. Ben Hohensatt. December 02, 2017.

Whirring, grumbles and exclamations all bounced off the halls outside of Parkside School’s STEM lab Monday.
 
With some coding completed, this trimester’s eighth-grade STEM students were in the hallway testing their drones.
 
“We’ve been working on this for seven days,” said Katie Budnick, STEM teacher. “We’re just starting to work on taking off and landing.”
 
Some launches and returns went more smoothly than others.
 
“Right now the drones are going high, how can we make it go lower?” Budnick asked a student.
 
After a moment of thought, there was a eureka moment, and the student returned to the classroom to adjust their drone’s code.
 
Robert Sullivan and Sami Funk were one set of lab partners with a successful start.
 
“Was I surprised?” Sullivan said. “A little bit.”
 
But he said he was more surprised to be flying a drone at all, especially just a few weeks into the new trimester.
 
“I didn’t really think we’d get this far,” Sullivan said. “I had STEM last year, and it was way different.”
 
Funk agreed.
 
“There’s more modules, and the computers are different,” she said. “There’s more technology involved.”
 
That’s because near the end of last school year, Peru’s school board approved the purchase of $42,0328.20 of new STEM modules and $17,068 of computer equipment. Modules are special STEM workshops, which give students hands-on experience.
 
Over summer, Budnick worked with the new equipment to create a new STEM curriculum. The revamped program and new modules combine to be a hit with students.
 
“The students love them,” said Parkside principal Lori Madden. “The old program got kind of stale. Students were still picking it, but not like now. Everyone thinks, ‘Drones. Oh cool, I want to do that.’”
 
But there’s more to topics to study than the buzzy aircrafts.
 
Other module topics include: robots, bridges, electronics, life skills, practional skills, fashion design, interior design, forensics, video broadcasting, auto engines, 3D printing and home architecture.
 
“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from all of my students and their parents,” Budnick said. “They’ve been enjoying every module. 3D printing has been a big hit as has interior design.”
 
Funk said she was looking forward to fashion design, and Sullivan said he’s interested in the auto engine module because he might like to be a diesel mechanic some day.
 
Both said they’d found the life skills and practical skills modules to be useful. Those modules focus on things such as fixing a sink or installing a door knob.
 
“For practical life skills, it kind of helps you out if you’re home and break something,” Funk said.

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