Baldwin Park Unified Expands STEM

District partners with Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering to strengthen career pathways

 

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Baldwin Park Unified is expanding its partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) – the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum – to deepen student opportunities for career and college pathways.

Baldwin Park High School – which launched Project Lead The Way’s freshman-year Introduction to Engineering Design class in 2014-15 – will add Principles of Engineering for sophomores this fall. The school plans to add a grade level each year.

Holland Middle School, meanwhile, is launching PLTW Gateway, which teaches students the principles of problem solving as they design playgrounds and furniture with specialized software.

Santa Fe School, a Grade 3 to 8 school, will provide Gateway for 8th Graders with an introduction to robotics for 5th Graders, and launch a PLTW club.

“These programs will strengthen our students’ knowledge, especially in engineering, as we begin to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize more hands-on learning and more real-world application of science,” Superintendent Dr. Paul J. Sevillano said.

Baldwin Park has partnered with Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering as part of the effort. Cal Poly is training and certifying teachers.  Students who complete the engineering pathway will move to the front of the registration line for Cal Poly’s engineering program.

District leaders say the new curriculum complements efforts by Baldwin Park High’s STEAM Academy, Holland Middle School’s exemplary science program and Santa Fe School’s focus on STEM, especially technology.

The STEAM Academy, which includes arts as well as STEM topics, is one of three career academies at Baldwin Park High School. The program provides interdisciplinary instruction around its STEAM theme. Signature projects include an egg drop, bridge-building and vehicle-building contests. Topics weave through math, history, English and social studies.

“Project Lead The Way adds a vital engineering component to our program,” Principal Anthony Ippolito said. “Together, these elements are really helping us to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to pursue college and career pathways.”

Baldwin Park’s efforts to strengthen college and career pathways helped earn the school a California Gold Ribbon – the state’s highest award – in 2015.

Ippolito said the programs offered at Holland and Santa Fe will work in conjunction with Baldwin Park’s engineering program and could even help prepare students for the high school’s Medical Academy, which has a sports medicine focus.

Holland Middle School, which earned a state Gold Ribbon this spring for its effective science instruction, will offer the Gateway program’s foundational class in engineering modeling and design as an 18-week program in fall and spring, allowing up to 50 students to take part. In 2016-17, Holland will add a foundational program in automation and robotics; specialized courses may follow the next year.

“We’re building a pipeline of opportunities for our students that will continue in high school and eventually lead to college,” Principal Michael Rust said. “We’re dedicated to giving these students every opportunity under the sun to succeed.”

At Santa Fe School – a smaller campus with about 400 students – programs will be offered to more than 30 8th Grade students as an elective and incorporated into science classes taken by all 5th Graders, Principal Margie Clark said. In addition, the school is looking to launch a PLTW club to help spark student interest.

“The goal is to get students excited about these opportunities,” Clark said. “I think they’ll be amazed at all the things they can create, especially with the robotics elements.”

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