AMPED for STEM

That is how we feel.  Finally, after several years of dreaming, we are launching the prequel of Geometry in Construction, a STEM class called AMPED.   AMPED stands for Algebra 1 in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship and Design.  The class will be piloted this fall (2014-15) at Loveland High School.  Initial enrollment of 100+ students will be learning their math skills through a manufacturing lens. 

In October 2014, our district approached us about the idea of creating a contextualized STEM course for Algebra 1.  They recognized a need and knew the success of Geometry in Construction.  In our district, Algebra 1 classes have one of the highest failure rates of any math class.  We learned our district is not that unusual in its struggle with Algebra 1.  As teachers know, this creates major problems when all of the systems in place are demanding students have higher levels of math to graduate.

We agreed to create such a course with the following requirements:

  • It will be created using the Geometry in Construction model
  • It will be based on current manufacturing needs in our area (computer, wind turbines, and solar)
  • It will allow students to have fun designing and creating products, not just pretending to create
  • Getting the right pair of teachers who are creative, full of energy, able to make connections, and are risk takers
  • Funding to revamp a 1960’s metal shop into a modern manufacturing facility.
  • Open to all students.  We know students think with their minds and with their hands
  • It will cover all of the Algebra 1 Common Core Standards.

Administrative and school board approval happened quickly.

This course will provide an overview of many aspects of manufacturing providing a basis for students to choose/find an area of interest.  the manufacturing business community has embraced us and has given input.   The quarter by quarter outline is below.

Quarter 1:  Textile production and product management using t-shirt design and production.  Our students will run a t-shirt shop for school clubs.  This will provide income and will provide the business needed for some of the Algebra topics.  Engineering processes including IB Design Standards, CADD software, Excel Spreadsheets, and Adobe Illustrator will be introduced.  From the algebra side, students will be introduced to variable manipulation, linear equations/graphing, and the use of formulas.

Quarter 2:  Wood, plastic and ceramic properties will be added.  Continuing on the foundation laid in quarter 1, students will design and produce products using laser engraving and 3-D printers.  Algebra 1 will continue with formula usage and manipulation, solving equations, and solving systems of equations.  Business decision making in regards to manufacturing will be the driver.

Quarter 3:  Metal and composite properties will be added.  The course spirals, so students will continue to work on the various projects from the previous quarters. On the math side, quadratics and exponentials will be introduced through material testing and entrepreneurship.

Quarter 4:  Production of products will be continued.  Through spiraling, additional algebra topics will be brought in to complete quadratics and exponentials.

Pending our success, the other 3 high schools in our district will be trained in the summer of 2015 for full implementation in the fall.  The time is right.  New teachers are being hired and equipment is being purchase.  Students are registered with the hope that their new Algebra 1 class will answer the question “Where are we ever going to use this?”.  We will keep you posted on the results of this new endeavor.




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