Happenings in the Tech Department

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Throughout the year, students enrolled in the technology classes at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School engage in hands-on learning that develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Below are a few highlights from the 2016-17 school year.

The students in Dean Kostis’ ninth-grade Computer Design class created 3-D structures as part of the course’s pre-engineering unit, which was designed to help them understand concepts such as tension, compression, shearing and torsion. Along with exploring the history of bridge designs, the unit examined different design and construction techniques. For example, they studied the design of a truss, the strongest geometric shape, to understand the science behind its strength and why it is seen in so many forms in everyday life. 

Students used West Point Bridge Designer to create and force test designs before choosing one to construct. One very successful structure was designed and built by Victoria Grosskopf and Mike Marchese. Weighing only 24.3 grams (about one-twentieth of a pound), the structure was able to hold 31,780 grams – just over 70 pounds, or 1,370 times its own weight. This would be akin to a 100-pound person holding 137,000 pounds. 

Students also used the free design program SketchUp to create 3-D models of homes before exporting them to the department’s MakerBot 3-D printers.

This past year, the department began to incorporate robotics into the curriculum, as well. Students coded virtual robots to navigate either an island or an underwater course and achieve objectives. In one entertaining lesson, they learned how to break down solutions into linear steps by coding for RobotC.

Each of the topics discussed through the technology education program induces logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, memory and problem-solving. The course of study allows students to experiment with concepts across the disciplines of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics – concurrently.