Tag Archives: engineering teaching

Year 12, Day 0

This week teachers headed into school to prepare for next week and students’ return. This will be my twelfth year!

My teaching this year will include more computer science than ever before:

  • AP Computer Science Principles (full year)
  • AP Computer Science A (full year)
  • Foundations of Computer Science  (spring)
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (fall)
  • Precalculus independent study (fall, three students, three separate periods)

I’ll also be working with our new engineering teacher and our librarian+new-computer-science-teacher to help them with their lessons, and collaborating with two geometry teachers around standards-based-grading.

Extracurricular activities and competitions:

  • Coding Club (app development, cybersecurity, & more)
  • Women’s Transportation Seminar’s “Transportation You!” Mentoring Program
  • TRAC bridge builder competition
  • CyberPatriot competition
  • STEM Competition
  • possible (in my mind, I want to do each of these this year): Cyber Movie Mondays, Saturday AP & PLTW study groups, Girls Who Code club
  • probably several others…

Ongoing projects that will occupy some of my time this year include:

  • Comp Hydro (teaching hydrology and flooding through computational simulations & modeling, in partnership with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study)
  • MyDesign (engineering design process app and learning management system, in partnership with NSF & the University of Maryland)
  • Internet of Things project to measure air quality and other environmental factors in schools (in partnership with Cool Green Schools, Johns Hopkins University, and Morgan State University)
  • Continuing work toward my Master’s Degree in Computer Science (taking “Artificial Intelligence ” course this semester)
  • Baltimore City Engineering Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) we created to provide opportunities to Baltimore City students to further their engineering education, and for which I am treasurer

School starts for students on Tuesday, after Labor Day for the first time in my twelve years here teaching in Baltimore. Wish us luck!

Leave a comment

Filed under computer science, engineering, math, teaching

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

Leave a comment

Filed under engineering, teaching

Teamwork: The POE House

This was an assignment I just wrote for a course I’m taking: to describe a day in my classroom from a journalistic third-person perspective. I figured I’d post it here as well. This is a slightly-fictionalized version of what occurred in my Principles of Engineering class on and around March 25th, 2014.

POE House Lighting

POE House Lighting

Upon walking into Nick Yates’s engineering classroom at Patterson High School in east Baltimore, the first thing one notices is students gathered together working on a project at the center of the room. Walking closer, the project reveals itself to be a large structure, roughly eight cubic feet, which the students explain is a model house. Each wall has a different truss design, built out of coffee stirrers that form triangles that fit together into a square wall, two feet on a side. The students are collaborating in teams, each team responsible today for lighting up a wall of the house.

The students are a diverse group. Six countries of origin are represented here in this one room: United States, Nepal, Mexico, Congo, Nigeria, and China. Among students born in the US, the majority are black, but some are white and some are Latino. Boys outnumber the girls in this engineering class, as they do in the engineering field, but the girls tell of after-school mentoring programs and field trips that have helped encourage them to stick with their engineering classes and to pursue a STEM career.

As one boy positions a light emitting diode (LED) on the wall, his partner pulls off electrical tape and hands it to him to secure it in position. Another partner reads off of a circuit diagram in her engineering notebook, where they have designed the electrical circuit, instructing her teammates how to connect the wires in between LEDs. And the fourth team member is using alligator clips to join three solar panels together to make this wall’s lights powered by environmentally sustainable source.

After a while, the team steps back to admire their handiwork. They bring over a lamp to simulate the Sun’s rays hitting the solar panels, and flip the light switch to on. But the LEDs do not light up. They are daunted for just a moment, but soon start troubleshooting the problem to try and fix their electrical system. One student suggests they check all the wire connections, to make sure they are all twisted together properly, and two members of the team immediately start to do that. Another suggests getting a multimeter to check if the solar panels are even generating electricity. As others check every place where two wires meet manually, she goes to get a multimeter from the teacher’s desk. She asks one of her partners to hold the multimeter’s leads to the wires while she operates the device. Each solar panel is reading about 1.83 volts of electricity, but the lights are still not lit. Another team member suggests checking the plan, to make sure the solar panels are wired in series so that their voltages add up. The team consults their notebooks, verifying that their actual work reflects their design; it does. Some of the team is beginning to lose hope, and one suggests calling the teacher over for help. But one student, remembering the time he held an LED to a nine-volt battery too long and the bulb blew out, suggests making sure each LED is working. His teammate asks how they should test the LEDs, perhaps by holding each one to a battery to see if it lights up? He grumbles a little about this, thinking of all the work they had just done to tie the LEDs together with wires into a circuit, only to have to undo it all. But at this point the girl with the multimeter steps in, saying they could use the multimeter to figure out which if any bulb was dead. The team works together and finds they did have a non-working LED. They replace it with a new one, and the lights come on. Success!

Leave a comment

Filed under engineering, teaching

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

2 Comments

Filed under engineering, teaching

White House Science Fair Today

Tune in to the White House Science Fair if you get the chance today: http://www.whitehouse.gov/science-fair

Five of my students will be there, showcasing their Solar-Powered Toy Hovercraft that they designed and created last year. Their project won first place in the Constellation Energy Challenge last spring, which was a collaboration between NFTE (Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship) and Maryland MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement), to have students design a product using alternative energy, engineer a working prototype of that product, and create a business plan for marketing the product to consumers. Thanks and credit also go to my amazing colleague who also advised them, and to two Morgan State University engineering students who mentored the team on their project.

A video of an early prototype (not yet using solar energy) can be found here.

The students did an amazing job with both their project and their presentation of it to a panel of judges last May, and received a special invitation earlier this month to be a part of President Obama’s annual White House Science Fair.

In addition to this invitation to the White House being tribute to the creativity, talent, and teamwork of the specific students, I think this team of five students, born in five different countries, also represents the great potential of my school’s (and America’s) diversity to create learning experiences and spark innovation. As well as providing a counter-narrative to the usual news of only bad things happening in Baltimore City Schools.

Wish them luck, and watch along!

3 Comments

Filed under engineering, teaching

BWI Airport

Very awesome trip last week. The Baltimore chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) took the students who have been participating all year in WTS’s Transportation You mentoring program to the airport!

BWI Airport

Transportation You is all about increasing the number of girls interested in transportation, engineering, and other STEM careers. At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) we learned about aviation, the infrastructure of the airport itself, and some of the jobs performed by women in those areas.

Introductions at BWI

Introductions at BWI

Of course, I knew it was going to be a great trip when we walked in and saw all these trusses in the ceiling!

Trusses Trusses Everywhere!

Trusses Trusses Everywhere!

Among many interesting parts of the visit, they took us up to the Operations Control room.

The Operations Control Center!

The Operations Control Center!

And then out onto the roof!

View from the Roof of BWI

View from the Roof of BWI

A fun day it was!

Leave a comment

Filed under engineering, teaching

Punkin Chunkin

Just got back from Punkin Chunkin!

Punkin Chunkin Catapults & Cannons

Punkin Chunkin Catapults & Cannons, in a line

More photos & details later.

Leave a comment

Filed under engineering, teaching

Skills USA Trip

Here is a summary post linking to all seven posts about our trip to Kansas City and the National Leadership and Skills Conference:

  1. (before the trip) Kansas City Competition
  2. Missouri Bound
  3. Orientation Day
  4. Opening Ceremony
  5. Competition Day
  6. Friday
  7. The Trip Home

Just wanted to have links to them all in one place!

A thousand thank yous go to all the supporters of our Indiegogo campaign, for helping make this trip possible!!! Also to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Patterson High School, and the Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Learning to Work, for providing the funds that enabled our students to attend this amazing competition and conference!

Hope you enjoyed the chronicle of our voyage. Next to come: more from my summer of travel, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Florida, and US Rte 1!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Trip Home

After Friday evening, the National Leadership and Skills Conference was over. We decided to split the trip home into two ten-hour drives, rather than drive all the way through from Kansas City to Baltimore. We stayed the night in Louisville, Kentucky.

The other nice thing about splitting the drive up (besides just making for an easier and safer drive back) was that we got to spend some time in St. Louis and learn about the engineering that went into the building of the Gateway Arch!

Here was our first view of the arch, driving into St. Louis from the west:

First view, Gateway Arch

First view, Gateway Arch

And, less blurry, a few minutes later:

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

We parked on the riverfront, in a garage between the Martin Luther King Bridge

MLK Bridge

MLK Bridge

and the famous Eads Bridge.

Eads Bridge

Eads Bridge

Here are views of each from below:

One small arch of the Eads Bridge, St. Louis

One small arch of the Eads Bridge, St. Louis

MLK Bridge, St. Louis

MLK Bridge, St. Louis

We walked toward the arch:

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

Once inside, we watched a documentary on the building of the arch. It was terrific! Here are two smaller models of them putting the last piece of the arch into place to finish its construction:

Model in the arch's lobby

Model in the arch’s lobby

Model in the northern base of the arch

Model in the northern base of the arch

We had some time to kill before our ticketed time to ride the tram all the way to the top of the arch. We visited the museum of westward expansion, and the old-timey general store. Abhishek and Bhola played checkers in the store.

Then we made our way to the top of the Arch. We had to stand in line several times, during one of which they had exhibits about what St. Louis was like as a pioneer town in the nineteenth century. We spotted a box of oysters from Baltimore:

Signs of Baltimore, even half way across the country!

Signs of Baltimore, even half way across the country!

Here was the door to our tram:

Door # 3

Door # 3

On the ride up,

Bhola and Abhishek inside the tram -- the National Park rangers described the tram as a mix between an elevator, a train, and a ferris wheel

Bhola and Abhishek inside the tram — the National Park rangers described the tram as a mix between an elevator, a train, and a Ferris wheel

We could see the stairs (off-limits to pedestrians – we had to ride up in the tram):

Looking out the window as the tram heads up

Looking out the window as the tram heads up

From the top, we could see several different views of St. Louis,

St. Louis downtown and green-domed courthouse

St. Louis downtown and green-domed courthouse

the Mississippi River,

Mississippi River and two bridges

Mississippi River and two bridges

the park that the Arch is in,

Gateway Arch park

Gateway Arch park

and the little tiny people and cars down below.

Look at all the tiny people!

Look at all the tiny people!

The arch is 630 feet tall.

630ft tall at the top of the arch

After staying in Louisville, we headed on home. On Sunday evening, we made it back to Baltimore. And thus ended our 2200 mile journey!

1 Comment

Filed under engineering, teaching

Friday

Friday (6/28) was lighter on the official Skills USA activities, so we used some of our time to explore Kansas City.

In the morning was a debriefing with the Robotics & Automation judges and competitors. For lunch, we searched out an Indian restaurant, and ate from the buffet at Kansas City’s Taj Mahal Restaurant.

The Missouri team’s advisor had recommended that we, as fans of automation, visit the Federal Reserve bank & museum. So we did!

A & B outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

A & B outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Here is how to tell if a bill is counterfeit:

Exhibit: Counterfeit Bills

Exhibit: Counterfeit Bills

Here is $40,000,000 in fake money:

How much space is taken up by $40 million (in $100 bills)

How much space is taken up by $40 million (in $100 bills)

The most exciting part of the visit was seeing through windows into the functioning part of the bank. This included a machine that automatically sorts money into three categories: good (which is redistributed out to other banks), worn-out (which it then shreds), and suspected counterfeit (which is then presented to the Secret Service for further investigation). Also it was pretty cool to see yellow Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) moving around and carrying pallets of money, with no driver. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in this section of the museum!

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to a video of some other AGVs.

When we left, we each got a bag of free money (worth about $165 before it had been shredded).

Kansas City calls itself the City of Fountains. In addition to the fountains outside our hotel,

Fountains near Marriott, KC

Fountains near Marriott, KC

and the fountains at the Federal Reserve,

Fountains outside KC Federal Reserve Bank

Fountains outside KC Federal Reserve Bank

we also saw several other fountains walking around near downtown:

These next two pics are actually from Saturday morning, not Friday, but fit in thematically with the content of this post

These next two pics are actually from Saturday morning, not Friday, but fit in thematically with the content of this post

This fountain and the previous one are both a few blocks north of our hotel

This fountain and the previous one are both a few blocks north of our hotel

Friday evening was the closing ceremony.

Closing ceremony

Closing ceremony

They had a lot of contests to get through, with gold and silver and bronze medalists from both high school and postsecondary in 98 categories. Here you can see them lining up the winners from three contests simultaneously on stage in the dark.

Getting ready to announce three contests onstage

Getting ready to announce three contests onstage

We cheered on all the Maryland medalists.

Go Team Maryland!

Go Team Maryland!

Afterward, we headed back to an ice cream social with the rest of our state. In this picture, you can see on his lanyard that Abhishek has traded and received a lot of pins from other states:

At Maryland's post-awards ceremony

At Maryland’s post-awards ceremony

Bhola & Abhishek got certificates of participation. Here is a picture of the three of us, posing together:

The Maryland Robotics & Automation Team

The Maryland Robotics & Automation Team

3 Comments

Filed under engineering, teaching