Tag Archives: aoe

Engineering Symposium & Showcase

Hi friends, our engineering seniors are wrapping up their capstone course by developing prototypes and presentations of their new inventions and innovations on products they’ve been developing this year. Consider donating $20 or whatever you can to help make our EDD Symposium & Innovation Showcase a success.

Donation link: https://rally.org/baltimorepltw2015

Website link for more info: https://sites.google.com/site/baltimorepltw2015/home


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White House Science Fair

At the White House

Lunch at the White House. Image © Iragena Serge Bangamwabo

As I mentioned in my last post, five of our students were invited to the White House Science Fair.

Here are a few news articles about them:

In front of their display board

In front of their display board, inside the White House. Image © Iragena Serge Bangamwabo


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Summer Plans

Yesterday was our last day of school. Woohoo!

However, I can’t just sit back and relax – I have many different things to do this summer. After my first summer teaching, when I took an engineering course and also taught Summer Bridge math, I told myself that I should leave the majority of my summertime uncommitted, for me to travel, have fun, learn new things, and relax. For the past several summers, I’ve managed to keep it down to two weeks during the summer of formal workshops/conferences/trainings. Yet, somehow this summer is shaping up to be one of my busiest yet!

Next week, I plan to travel to Kansas City with two of my students, to compete in the National Leadership and Skills Conference. A month and a half ago, after putting in many long hours of practice, they earned first place in the state-level Robotics and Automation Technology competition for Skills USA. Which garnered them the chance to compete at the national level. I have had one pair of students make it to the national level before (three years ago), but this will be my first time going with them. Wish us luck!

A bit later in the summer is the annual NAF Next Conference, which I’ve been to thrice before. This year it’s in Orlando, Florida. I plan to make a nice drive out of it, a smaller version of my trip from two years ago. I’m thinking of taking the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way there, driving down Florida’s coast on Highway A1A, heading down to Key West and the southernmost point in the continental United States, then taking US Route 1 on the way back to Baltimore.

After a three-year hiatus from taking new Project Lead the Way courses at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (I’ve been trained in Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Principles of Engineering, and Digital Electronics), I’ll be back there later this summer for another one. This year I’m taking Introduction to Engineering Design, where I’ll learn about the design process, engineering sketching, and more advanced skills in the 3D modeling software Autodesk Inventor.

And, finally, throughout all of that, I’ll also be working with several other teachers for the Baltimore City School District, to develop a remediation plan for students who fail their engineering classes.

So, I anticipate that it will be a fun but busy summer for me. Hope all the rest of you teachers are having a wonderful start to your summer breaks! And, to everyone else in other jobs that don’t supply a summer break, hope you’re at least enjoying the beautiful weather!


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Well, I guess I haven’t announced it here yet, so here goes:

My school received certification this summer from the National Academy Foundation, and is now an official Academy of Engineering (AOE)!

One of my colleagues designed these two slides (powerpoint) (or here’s a google docs version). The first slide highlights the news above (and our claim to fame as the first and only Baltimore school certified both by PLTW and AOE); the second lists some benefits for our students. Go check it out.

In personal news, this is my first year not teaching any math. I’ve been doing various ratios of engineering to math courses from year to year, but this is the first year the denominator has fallen out of the picture and the ratio has blown up to infinity! It’s too early in the year to say I miss the math yet after just two weeks, but I know I will soon (you could probably tell even in that last sentence, with talk of ratios and denominators and infinities, couldn’t you?). This semester, I’m teaching just one prep, two sections of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and spending the rest of my time on coordinating/improving our AOE.

I’m also happy since the weather’s been cooler the last few days! Hope your school years are off to a good start too.

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Today I spent some time working on a grant application to begin a mentoring program as part of my school’s Academy of Engineering. Here’s the project description so far:

Patterson High School’s Academy of Engineering (AOE) would like to begin a multi-level mentoring program for our students. We plan to bring in outside engineers from industry to work with our students at every grade level. We’d also like to have several of our seniors and juniors mentor the students just entering our program, at the ninth and tenth grade level. The mentoring setup will include a once-monthly meeting, to include 1 industry mentor, 1 peer-to-peer student mentor, and 6 mentees. The meeting will vary month to month, but will include STEM-themed hands-on activities, discussions of what it takes to succeed in AOE, discussions of what it takes to succeed beyond high school in the engineering field, tips for college applications, advice on student innovative projects, and a luncheon / awards ceremony.

Any advice, things to add, things to change?

With budgets being cut more and more each year, it seems like grant writing is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life. Last year I applied (either individually or with another teacher) for four grants: PLTW Innova Grant, NACME STEM Innovation Grant, AIAA Educator Grant, and SME-EF CIM Upgrade Grant. We received funds from the latter three, which helped pay for a bus, supplies for STEM Competitions, a rocket launcher, and upgrades to new equipment for my CIM course.

Still, even with these grants, we are working with a smaller budget than ever before. With declining enrollment at the school (though the engineering program is still growing), and education cuts across the board due to the economy, we have less money budgeted to support our programs than years prior. And, so, we’re looking for grants to apply for, like the one above. Any great ones out there that I should know about?

Speaking of fundraising and grants for classroom projects, there are only three days left to donate to my Mustaches For Kids Donors Choose page. On it, I’ve selected several grant proposals from my school and from other Baltimore City Schools that I think are important and worthwhile. The fundraising drive ends with the month of November. Please give today, whether it’s $5 or $25, to support my mustache and our kids’ education.

Almost through the mustache month!

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AOE Site Visit

AOE Fall Site Visit today. Combined with our school’s open house this evening in the heavy rains, that made for another >12 hour day. Tomorrow I’m promising myself <9 hours (shooting for a standard 8 hour workday, but promising <9).

Encouraged by some of the feedback from our site visit. We have continued to make progress as an AOE in all four areas (academy development, curriculum/instruction, advisory board, & work-based learning). We’ve put a lot of pieces in place that are helping our students. Still have more work to do in every area, but solid progress has occurred. Some is thanks to me, but much is thanks to our awesome team of teachers, or thanks to our terrific industry partners.

While impressed with that progress, the major piece that is still not in place is the AOE as a small learning community within the larger high school. With common planning time built into the school day for our AOE teachers (by grade). Including a pure academy model where students stay with academy teachers for all subjects and don’t go to other academies except for electives or rare offerings (e.g. AP calculus). Not because other academies’ teachers suck, but because our AOE teachers will collaborate and make connections around engineering, and because our AOE teachers will meet and collaborate around improving education for our shared students. Right now there is lots of cross-academy teaching, which doesn’t fit in with the AOE model.

If this were to fall into place, it would make much of what we are doing for AOE so much easier, and make some things possible that are not currently possible. With the new principal and new leadership team, today was really their first in-depth introduction about the goals of the NAF/AOE model. So here’s hoping that we will have a commitment to work along these lines for next year.

Anyway, I apologize for errors of grammar and sentence fragments and such. I usually proofread for you, but not tonight. Need some sleep now. :^)

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NAF PLC Seminar

Today I was away from my school and my students, attending a conference. It was held by the National Academy Foundation (NAF) at Baltimore’s NAF High School. So, pretty close as conferences go!

It was a first-time gathering attempting to create a sustainable professional learning community of educators from schools with NAF academies from the southern Northeastern United States. That is, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC. I met people from Philadelphia, PA, Elizabeth, NJ, and various counties across Maryland. Some were teachers, some were principals, some were academy directors, some were work-based learning coordinators, some were industry partners. The focus today was on work-based learning and internships.

Unlike some PD’s and conferences, I did take away a lot from today. I’m outlining it here, both to share with y’all and also to commit myself to following through on these items. Before Thanksgiving, I will:

  • Look into ACE
  • Look into Baltimore’s YouthWorks
  • Reach out to find an organizer and presenters for a January “Professional Development Day for Students” around soft skills (including interviewing, public speaking, time and project management, self-presentation)
  • Discuss with school leaders re-instituting “Wonderful Wednesdays” where students “Dress for Success” in professional business attire; look for donations of professional clothing to have some extras
  • Check out Lockheed Martin’s IT Apprentice program

Within the year, I will:

  • Create a student checklist of our tiered work-based learning program
  • Hold AOE Awards Ceremony, with partners invited
  • Look into starting a NSBE Junior chapter
  • Look into joining or starting a monthly webinar by industry partner(s) for students
  • Business cards for our academy’s teachers
  • Consider hosting a gathering of PLTW/AOE alumni and current students
  • Invite industry partner(s) for January or April PD Day for other academy teachers
  • Create a newsletter or news email that can be used for our academy, sent out to our school, to our industry partners, to the media, and to our community

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