Huntley 158 Today: HHS Engineering Academy Students Talk Robots, Classes

Huntley 158 Today: HHS Engineering Academy Students Talk Robots, Classes


♫♫ Robots are invading Huntley High School! ♫♫ I’m Jessica Lombard, associate superintendent. And I’m Superintendent John Burkey. And this is “Huntley 158 Today.” How are you today, Ms. Lombard? I’m doing great, how about you Dr. Burkey? I’m really good. Today we have some engineering students on. And a couple of years ago we started an Engineering
Academy at Huntley High School, and they’re going to be talking about that. I think you participated in the interviews
for helping select students for that. Yes, the Academy actually has an admissions
process to get into it, and I participated in that last spring. And I’ve gotta tell you, I was amazed at the
quality of our students that were vying to get into our Engineering Academy. They really are at a very high level before
even getting into the Academy. That’s fantastic. I’d love to hear more about that and how it
came to fruition. And today we have Mrs. Henk with us, who teaches
here at the high school. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself
and what you teach here and what role you played in the creation of the Engineering
Academy? This is my 11th year teaching here at Huntley
High School. I’ve taught physics and now engineering. Prior to that I worked at Fermi National Accelerator
Laboratory in particle physics and transitioned to teaching because I like working with students
and adults that are learning, so it was the perfect fit for me. What role did you — you helped kind of,
create the Engineering Academy. Can you tell us a little bit about your role
in that? Several years ago we were looking at creating
an engineering academy, and they asked if I would be interested in participating in
the committee that was formed K-12 to have some input. And once we started to flesh out the details,
I was very excited about becoming more involved. So I was just a committee member. So what specific classes are you teaching
this year? I’m teaching Project Lead the Way’s Principles
of Engineering and Project Lead the Way’s Aerospace Engineering this year. We have a few students with us today. Joe is one of them — proudly sporting the
Cubs t-shirt, still celebrating the World Series win. Tell us what got you interested in being in
our Engineering Academy. Well, when I was in eighth grade at Heineman,
Mr. O’Neill, who’s one of the other engineering teachers, he came to Heineman and put on a
little presentation. Actually, both the Medical and the Engineering
Academy came to Heineman and put on a presentation about the academies. And I saw what they were doing and what the
future would be like with those courses, so I decided to sign up for freshman year. And then I liked it freshman year, and I liked
it sophomore year, and I’m doing both classes now. Sarah, I think you are rounding out — you
are the White Sox fan sitting out here — so thank you for joining us as well! Tell us why you were interested in becoming
a member of the Engineering Academy and what courses and experiences have you had? Well, I’ve been exposed to engineering for
a very young age because my dad is an electrical engineer. And then in sixth grade when they start making
us look at possible careers, I was always interested in the math and science things. And since I’ve had that exposure to engineering,
that seemed like really fun, and in eighth grade I pretty much knew I wanted to be an
engineer. And when I heard they were starting the Engineering
Academy, I mean, I was really excited about it. That was like the first class I knew I was
going to take. And it’s lived up to all of my expectations. I’ve had a lot of fun in the classes. So Allen, how come you got into engineering? Um, I’m kind of in the same boat with Sarah. My aunt and my cousin are both engineers so
I was exposed to it at a really young age. I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. And as soon as I heard they were having the
Engineering Academy, I got super excited. I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Mrs. Henk, how do you see, in the first few
years of the Academy, where are we going next with this, and what kind of courses will be
rolling out in the future? In the future, starting with next year, we’re
hoping to offer the Project Lead the Way capstone course, which is called Engineering Design
and Development. And in that course students get to choose
a research project that walks them through an engineering challenge. So they get to innovate, they get to design,
they get to re-design a product that’s out there, or come up with a solution to a problem
that already exists that they would like to solve. So they’re gonna work with a staff member
and then hopefully engineers within our community to support them through that project. Could you talk about a few of the projects
that you do in your class that help you prepare students? Oh, there’s a number of them. Starting with Principles of Engineering students
have the opportunity in third quarter to get immersed in robotics, so that’s one of my
favorites. We had the opportunity through MCC to compete
in a Vex Robotics-style challenge last spring, so we modified the curriculum to fit that
invitation from the community college. And it really has kind of exploded since then. So students in my class get a chance to build
their own robot based on the challenge that’s in front of them. They played a game last year that involved
Ping Pong balls and Wiffle balls and scoring against an opponent. They had to design the robot from scratch
using the Vex tools that we have in the classroom. They got to learn how to computer program
to drive their own robots, how to code joysticks, so that’s been one of our favorites. Did all three of you participate in that robotics? Yes How cool was that experience? What was that like? It’s difficult, like when you don’t really
have much experience with all the coding and everything, but it was a nice way to ease
us into it all. It was really fun. It’s really neat to see education changing
and being so hands-on, where you’re able to create and develop and all those things. This is really impressive. I mean this is definitely not “sit and get”
education. This is, like you said, where students are
able to be hands-on and really get to learn the things that they’re gonna do when they
get into their careers. So we really want to thank you for being on
the show today and talking about our Engineering Academy and some of the really exciting things
that are going on in the classes. And thank you very much and good luck with
future competitions. You’ll continue doing that, some of you? Very good. And thank you for joining us at “Huntley 158
Today.” If you have questions you’d like answered,
or topics you’d like seen on our show, please reach out to us at our District 158 Facebook
page or Twitter, hashtag #ask158. Until next time! ♫♫ Pretty cool, huh? ♫♫

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