At Hartford Public High: Engineering and Green Technologies Academy
New Hartford Schools: Engineering And Green Technologies Academy
November 17, 2008
Dwayne Gonzalez thought the Academy of Engineering and Green Technologies at Hartford Public High School would help him become an auto mechanic. But more than two months into the school year at the new academy, Gonzalez said he's seeing that engineering extends beyond just auto mechanics.
"I didn't expect it to be like this," Gonzalez said, as he cut out paper shapes to form a three-dimensional soccer ball. "It's straight. I'm good at math."
The academy and several other new schools opened this year under a districtwide reformation. The engineering design class, where the students made polyhedrons to calculate material costs, is one of a handful of engineering courses that will be offered there.
Dividing Hartford Public High School into four smaller, themed academies had its most immediate effect on students' behavior, teachers said.
"This is unheard of," said teacher Michael McCausland, waving his hand across an empty hallway. "It was kind of that you were an island unto yourself [in the classroom], but out here, it was no man's land."
But as the school settles into its theme, school officials and corporate partners hope to increase the students' grasp of STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to help them be more competitive in college and their careers.
All sophomores take an introduction to engineering class. More classes, such as computer-integrated manufacturing, will be added each year as more teachers are trained, said Principal Jacqueline Ryan. And engineering and green technology themes are integrated into other core subjects, such as math and science, she said.
"We're transitioning. That's the plan," Ryan said. "And we're definitely moving toward that direction. As our staff gets trained, we'll continue to crank up our curriculum."
United Technologies Corp. has signed on as one of several corporate partners, giving the Connecticut Business and Industry Association an $89,800 grant to use exclusively at the academy. That money will go toward professional development, a computer lab with engineering software and other programs.
While some extracurricular activities are still being settled, some have already started. The academy has the only junior chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, a club that previously existed at the high school. And about 25 students participate in a Saturday workshop program called "Engineering Challenge for the 21st Century."
Some honors students said they didn't like the new system — for example, advanced placement courses don't start until next semester, and there aren't any honors courses. But others, such as junior Brooke Kimbrough, said they were happy about the change.
"Before, I didn't know what I wanted to do after high school. I thought maybe I'd join the Army," Kimbrough said. "Now I see I have a lot going for me."
>> This year, several Hartford schools have seen major changes under Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's district reform plan: Some underperforming schools were shut down; new schools were created; and other schools have been restructured. This series looks at individual schools that have undergone major changes this academic year.
>> The concept: At the Engineering and Green Technologies Academy, school officials aim to have students master STEM subjects science, technology, engineering and mathematics to be more competitive in college and in the engineering field. Partnerships with local engineering and industrial companies will include tours of their plants, such as an upcoming tour of the Hamilton Sundstrand headquarters in Windsor Locks. Each year students will be required to perform a learning project on a specific topic, such as energy conservation, according to Principal Jacqueline Ryan. >> Grades: 10 - 12 >> Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:09 p.m. >> Enrollment: 360 students, about 90 percent male.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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