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PLTW to roll out third-level courses next year

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(JOHNNY MULLIGAN/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JOHNNY MULLIGAN/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JOHNNY MULLIGAN/EYE OF THE TIGER)

JAKE LUKASKO

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The third level courses for the Project Lead the Way Engineering and Biomedical Science programs will arrive next year to RHS. Students on campus can now enroll into Medical Interventions and Digital Electronics, for PLTW Biomed and Engineering, respectively.

Science teachers Mike Purvines, Katherine Nurss and Oliver Weiss plan to take the reins for the additional PLTW classes and to help support PLTW’s growing popularity, and therefore enrollment, with students. Purvines and Nurss will teach Biomedical Sciences and Weiss for Engineering.

All three will attend professional development training ran by PLTW this summer.

PLTW Biomedical Sciences teacher Erin Granucci looks forward to the addition of Purvines and Nurss to the Biomedical Sciences program.

“I am super excited to have [Nurss] come in. She’s a very strong teacher and Mr. Purvines is just perfect for the third class,” Granucci said. “I mean, he’s very hands-on already. He’s a very talented teacher when it comes to student engagement and just having fun with science but he also has a lot with his chemistry and physics background. It works perfectly with the engineering component but also with the Biochem.”

PLTW students that have taken the first two courses of a PLTW path will be able to take either third level course. Both programs will integrate elements of the other to provide for different, specific skill sets.

“This is when the Engineering and the Biomed kind of merge,” Granucci said. “So, they will be creating a lot more design processes so there is a prosthetic, kind of a robotic limb that they’ll have to be able to take a cup and bring to their mouth and try to structurally do that by applying it to the human body and levers and muscles and how that works. So, that’s the engineering component.”

According to Granucci, both of these third level courses initiate the career-focused aspects of the programs, where students start to specialize in their own individual paths for the future.

“We start to see students who have been introduced to numerous career opportunities and, starting to kind of realize what they might be interested in studying or pursuing,” Granucci said.

According to RJUHSD superintendent of curriculum Jesse Borjon, the third level courses continue to focus on the application of skills in real life, as opposed to traditional, text-based classes.

“I think there are some elements in it that try to make it a little more relevant in the workplace,” Borjon said. “Bringing in some industry partnerships, potentially at the highest level of implementation would be some internships, that students like that could go out there at that third level and get some experience out there.”

Science teacher Mike Purvines looks forward to the move away from traditional textbooks and into PLTW’s hands-on focus.

“I think both Engineering and Biomedical are just fascinating courses,” Purvines said. “I like the hands-on aspect of them, I like the futuristic view of science and doing things, instead of more historical-based I think we sometimes get into. That, I find is exciting.”

The focus of Digital Electronics will be applying engineering skills learned in the previous courses to robotics. Engineering teacher John Fuller plans to partner with Parallax, a Rocklin-based company that sells robotics kits with customizable frames built around Arduino microcontrollers designed specifically for educational purposes.

“It’s a lot more demanding robotics. It’s not kind of plug and play,” Fuller said. “It’s actual building of the circuits, it’s doing the code and it’s a little bit more indepth than the second class.”

Fuller expects the class to take a more attractive approach compared to past courses.

“I want the class to be mobile, I don’t want students being sedentary and sitting down the whole period, I want them moving around and working,” Fuller said.
Junior Aidan Carrigg, who is enrolled in Digital Electronics, will be pursuing a career in the engineering field and considers the experience PLTW provides as being helpful towards achieving his goal and college readiness.

“Pretty much every engineering field dabbles in[to] robotics and also coding, So, it’s going to be really important in the next upcoming years to master that area of expertise. I think it’s really gonna help me prepare for my first entry courses in college,” Carrigg said.

Engineering student Sydney Richardson, who will be taking Digital Electronics as well, expects the class to grant more independence to the students.

“Up until the third course program, I am assuming, it’s more like you do what Project Lead The Way wants you to do and it seems more like in Digital Electronics you’ll get to do more of what you want to do and design your own things, so that’s what I am more excited for,” Richardson said.

According to Granucci, there will be two classes of Biomedical Interventions next year, split from this year’s larger class in order to meet the enrollment demands.

Junior Drishti Summan signed up for the Medical Interventions course inspired by wanting to pursue a career in the medical field.

“I am taking the third class because I’m interested in pursuing a medical career and it’s more hands on and a lot different than other classes that are offered here,” said Summan.

The only other PLTW course set, PLTW Computer Science, could also come to RHS in the future. Computer Sciences is being introduced to Antelope High School next year as their first PLTW program.

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