Chartiers Valley High a finalist for national STEM award (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Chartiers Valley High School is one of three finalists for the Florida Educational Technology Conference STEM Excellence Awards.

“It gives us a lot of affirmation that we are going in the right direction,” said Leslie Fields, coordinator of Chartiers Valley School District initiatives. “It is a nod to a lot of hard work,” she said.

STEM education stands for science, technology, engineering and math and is something the district has been incorporating into the classroom for the past few years, Ms. Fields said. Chartiers Valley High School is the only school in Pennsylvania to be a finalist for the award. The other finalists are the math and science technology program for high-schoolers at Florida International University Biscayne Bay Campus and Park City School in Park City, Utah.

The conference’s STEM Excellence awards were created to recognize excellence and innovation in the field of STEM education.

“The  ... Advisory Board evaluated over 100 applications for your finalist position and was impressed by the innovation and educational impact of your STEM program,” stated a letter from the advisory board to the school district.

The letter went on to say the conference considers the school “among the top 10 STEM programs in the nation.” 

Ms. Fields said STEM education is not limited to the high school.

“We are implementing STEM education in grades kindergarten through 12,” she said.

The high school has an engineering academy in which students can take classes on engineering, designing and building.

“It’s all hands on,” Ms. Fields said of classes in the engineering academy.

She said the high school also took its traditional wood shop and metal shop classes and made them part of the applied engineering and technology department.

Last school year, students also came up with a solution to make the school’s wind turbines more efficient.

Ms. Fields said the turbines originally worked only if the wind was blowing at more than five miles per hour. The students found a way to make the turbines work with very little breeze.

“They designed one with opposite-spinning blades,” Ms. Fields said, which allowed for better efficiency. The turbine students made also has a lower profile. Ms. Fields said the students received a patent on the project.

This year another group of students is participating in the governor’s JOBS1ST PA STEM competition.

“They are solving real world problems,” Ms. Fields said, adding the team chose to work on developing an alert system that lets homeowners know when it is time to change furnace filters.

“Everything is centered around problem-solving,” Ms. Fields said.

Ms. Fields was expected to attend the conference today in Orlando, Fla., along with a team of teachers and administrators.

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