Some of Chestermere High School’s (CHS) Grade 10 students are piloting a program that teaches them their core courses in a more hands-on fashion.
The Engineering Futures program uses a hands-on project based approach to teach a volunteer cohort of CHS Grade 10 students.
“It really allows them…to take in, through the lens of science, technology, engineering, math, the STEM approach,” said CHS Principal Jordan Fenton.
He said that the students who are piloting the program have found this style of learning to be really interesting.
Staff are also finding the program to be an effective way to teach.
“The program is working extremely well,” said Fenton.
“It is providing an opportunity for community based partnerships to make…learning realistic and real,” he said.
The program provides the answer to students asking how what they are being taught affects them and their lives.
Some of the projects that the students have been working on included a prototype project where students had the choice of working on a home heating and cooling project, a person’s carbon footprint, and the effects of acid rain.
The most recent project that they have been working on is on accessibility and making the community around them better for everyone.
“They’ve taken a focus to do with students in our school,” said Fenton.
While the Engineering Futures pilot project has been a success, Fenton said that they will continue running it next year but only for Grade 10 students.
The current Engineering Futures students will be returning to a traditional high school model of learning next year.
“Right now, the Engineering Futures piece will remain as a Grade 10 cohort,” he said.
While Engineering Futures will be staying with the Grade 10’s Fenton said that as they continue to work on high school redesign, they will be looking at other ways to include cross curriculum projects.
He also wants to continue utilizing community partnerships to provide real world learning opportunities to CHS students.
Students who are in Grade 9 and will be taking Grade 10 at CHS next year have the opportunity to apply to participate in the Engineering Futures program.
“We have a limited number of spaces but we haven’t got to a part yet where we’ve had to lottery people out,” said Fenton.
He said that if the popularity were to grow to the point of not having enough space that it “would be a good problem to have.”
The program is modeled after Rocky View School’s (RVS) Building Futures, which has been successful in teaching students about the construction trades during the school year.
Students from CHS presented their program to the RVS board on March 30.
“Those kids absolutely blew me away,” said RVS Ward Two Trustee Bev LaPeare.
“What they’re doing goes so far beyond school walls, so far beyond just regular teaching and learning,” she said.
LaPeare said that she was particularly impressed with the accessibility project.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for those kids and that program,” she said.
After seeing the CHS student’s presentation LaPeare thinks that more schools within RVS should be encouraged to run these kinds of programs.
“If we could replicate what those kids are doing across the division, that would be outstanding,” she said.