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Nevada Union High School students get new engineer computer lab

Nevada Union High School engineering students will step into a brand new computer lab in a couple weeks, provided to the school through a federal grant aimed at identifying the effects that engineering curriculum can have on general student outcomes from test scores to career choices.

“It’s going to track a cohort of students, around 30 students, and we’re calling it a Pathway to engineering, which is a sequence of courses,” career tech and wood shop teacher Scott Michael said. “The outcomes can be measured on a small scale which would be: Does it help improve math and science scores? … Do these students end up becoming engineers?”

According to Michael, last fall a Sacramento-based education curriculum publishing group teamed up with Project Lead The Way, the nation’s leading science, technology, engineering, and math solutions group in over 5,000 schools across the country. They contacted schools across the state to participate in a federally funded study looking to identify the effect that their design and engineering curriculum, also known as Pathway, has on student performance.



Forty schools were given the grant, including NU which received a more than $100,000 one-time grant, to participate in a 10-year Pathway Academy.

The funds pay for the new 1,000 square-foot computer lab with 30 brand new Lenovo computer stations with 22-inch monitors, and trainings for teachers who will be instructing students in the four-course curriculum.




Construction on the lab began in July, as the school converted an old metal shop space into a working computer lab, next to the wood shop room. NU’s first Pathway Academy student cohort began this school year and consists of 26 male students and two female students, whom are all freshman.

The class was randomly selected from a group of 60 freshman students in a lottery conducted by employees associated with Project Lead The Way. The 28 students chosen to be a part of Pathway will participate in a four-year course curriculum together, which will cover different levels of design and engineering through four different classes.

According to Michael, test scores for the students that were not chosen to be a part of the academy this first year, though, will be compared to test scores from the students who were chosen, in order to give the study an understanding of how the curriculum affects student outcomes at the school.

“If Nevada Union hadn’t gone for the grant, we would have had nothing in place here,” Michael said. “So I think it’s worth this first year to have it somewhat exclusive, so next year we can do whatever we want. Students can just flow into the first course, they can actually be anybody, freshman or seniors, I’m going to keep it open to all, my goal is not to make Pathway exclusive only for students of a high level, so to speak.”

Michael said there are also no prerequisites that students need to have to join the academy, and that his goal is to get more female students in the class, and the field of engineering in general.

Michael is teaching Pathway’s first course — introduction to design and engineering — this year and says that NU’s program will be a marriage between teachers from career tech education and the science department.

“John McDaniel, another Pathways teacher, will teach the second course, principles of engineering, and our third course is not yet determined,” Michael said. “We are kind of thinking something between a computer integrated manufacturing course, or a biotech course.”

The academy’s fourth and final course will be an engineering design development capstone, where the academy’s first class will work together during their senior year to do all-encompassing projects.

“This cohort of students will be in the same classroom four years in a row, and will be learning four sets of curriculum that will be essentially pre-engineering,” Michael said. “And hopefully the outcome for these students end up raising their math and science scores.”

Michael said the academy’s first class is just now at the point of moving into the school’s new computer lab, but have since been working on a project around computer numerical machinery in the wood shop room.

“We’re going to do a project having to do with puzzle-making,” Michael said. “And we’re trying to introduce students to taking measurements, taking observations, and reproducing them in a drawing program, while also applying what they know in solving problems.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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