Hartford Area Career & Technology Center
My name is Ileana Sirois. Andrew Lamb and I are currently juniors attending Hartford High School. Recently a new program was created at the HACTC called PLTW-STEM. When we first heard about it, we got really excited because it contained all of our favorite subjects: Science, Math, and Technology. We both chose to apply to the STEM program last spring, and now as we’re progressing through the program, we really enjoy it. It has opened up our eyes to a whole new reality.
STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. PLTW stands for Project Lead The Way, which is an organization promoting a hands-on learning environment. We are currently taking the STEM Introduction to Engineering and Design (IED) course with 20 students from other area schools. We enjoy bonding and working together with people outside of our community.
In one unit, we learned about Design Processes which involves a lot of thinking outside the box to fix a problem. For example, in our Cable Car activity, students were asked to solve a problem that involved projecting an object as far as it may go when connected to a cable. We were given materials and had to use the Design Process to create an object which would fulfill the assignment to its best requirements.
Another STEM topic that many students took an interest in was technical drawing. We learned how to draw proportional items, different types of sketches, and the shading process of an object which is also called toning. Sketching is essential for engineering because the job of an engineer is to solve a problem and to show others how you did it.
Currently, our class is working on a puzzle cube project, where we were asked to create a 3 by 3 by 3 cube that fits together like a puzzle using building blocks. As a whole class we then sketched isometric drawings of each of the five pieces we created to come together and make a cube. Then, using skills we were taught in class, we designed a package for the puzzle cube.