Unique Projects Capture Students' Attention & Expand Skills

     Published on   Tagged under:    District News   

Forget the bacon. For some students at Fowler High School, breakfast is served with a side of physics.
 
Technology teacher Edward Levine stumbled across this innovative teaching strategy quite by accident. “I found some gyroscope (a device to measure orientation) demonstration equipment and thought it was awesome. I was showing off a bit to some freshmen who were in my room before school, and they thought it was amazing!”
 
As a teacher of Project Lead the Way at Fowler and Homeland Security at PSLA—as well as a STEM and Robotics Club Coach, Mr. Levine is always looking for ways to get students interested in these activities. After students showed an initial interest in his gyroscope demonstration, he decided to try pitching a new, larger audience: the 50 or so students who gather in the school cafeteria to eat breakfast before school begins.
 
“I want students to know what opportunities I have for them,” Mr. Levine explained. “So since then, I go down about once a week just to show off some cool physics demo. Nothing formal, just something simple and easy to transport.”
 
So far, students have seen demos about polarized lenses, pendulum motion and momentum, Magnetism and fields and the vandegraph generator and electrons.  “It's also a nice way to share concepts I'm expecting out of my students next year in the Homeland Security Academy,” Mr. Levine added.
 
At the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central (ITC), students have been expanding their technical skills in a very different way—through sewing.
 
Like Mr. Levine, ITC Visual Art and Media Communications teacher Cheryl Molesky was looking for a way to increase student interest in her field. “I am on a constant search to find things that are relevant to my students’ lives,” Ms. Molesky said. “I want my students to value art and understand that it can be a part of their lives even if they do not want to be an artist.”
 
About eight years ago, Ms. Molesky discovered an activity that combined her personal interest with her students’: backpacks. Students sew a drawstring backpack, adding grommets and braided straps to complete the project. They are able to use fabric dye sticks and crayons to bring to life the art techniques they have learned about while creating their own personalized bag.
 
“The sewing is a little tedious for them, but they usually love this project. They enjoy this opportunity to express themselves,” Ms. Molesky explained. “If I tried not to teach this activity, I think there would be a revolt!”