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     Neshaminy High School Status Report

     At the high school level, the new Advanced Placement Chemistry course is going well this year with two sections of mostly juniors – Dana Puskas teaching. We anticipate having all these students take the AP Chemistry exam, and their participation/good scores will positively impact the SPP for the high school.

     We have three sections of AP Environmental Science running this year—a significant increase from the past. So, more of these students will be taking the AP exam as well. Some continue to be involved with the annual Envirothon competition as well.

     The AP Environmental Science and AP Biology courses are designed to promote a balance between developing solid content knowledge and applying that knowledge.

      Some examples:

    • A Spectrophotometer has been purchased for use in AP Chemistry labs and the other AP Science courses so that students will be able to conduct their own research on unknown substances to determine their composition;
    • Environmental Sciences content integrates all of the sciences (physical, earth and life) to challenge students to critically explore issues in our local environment. Students collect data through field investigations and use technology tools, such as google docs to mathematically analyze and report their findings through writing and power point presentations. They also are using renewable energy models to investigate the most efficient sources of energy. The final post-exam project requires the students to design a project that their group found interesting during the course of the year, solicit funding to complete the project and report their efforts to their peers;
    • AP Environmental Science courses use the vast resources of our 125 acre Idlewood Environmental Station to work in teams to investigate the core content required by the AP College Board. The Environmental education students have participated in and performed well in the Envirothon competition; and,
    • AP Biology, guided by microbiologist, Dr. Nancy Oliveira, utilizes a state of the art Thermo cycler as part of their Genetics STEM Lab activities and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

     In AP Physics classes students are regularly engaged in problem based learning as demonstrated through the construction and launching of a weather balloon. Additionally, two engineers are on staff to lead the engineering aspects of STEM activities

     We will continue to better prepare students for the Biology Keystone exam through increased collaboration of the biology teachers in delivering the eligible content instruction as effectively as possible and providing students with CDT, Study Island and a strategically crafted mid-term assessment that highly reflects the Keystone questions and level of rigor.

     Our students taking the 9th grade science program will continue to have access to STEM professionals and cutting-edge research through the JASON Mission Center website. Students receive an integrated science experience with enough of a focus on biology to prepare them well for the full year Keystone course in 10th grade. This website is inquiry-based (asking questions and defining problems, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions, engaging in argument from evidence, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information) and contains online curriculum, digital labs(PHET online labs to reinforce concepts and allow students to work at their own pace to discover and grow in their content understanding) and games, teacher classroom management tools and online community features. Hands-on experimental investigations and applications of biology, earth science, chemistry and physics are also provided as an introduction to these content specific courses in subsequent years. Additionally, through live webcasts students are connected to inspirational STEM role models on an ongoing basis.  Edmodo is the online tool used for delivering assignments as well as having students submit their work. Updates are posted on content covered and student and teacher connections as well as student to student connections are established and maintained. See http://www.jason.org/ for examples.

     In our second year for Project Lead the Way (PLTW), students are taking courses in Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE) and Digital Electronics (DE). We will be offering two more PLTW courses in 2015-2016: Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA) and Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSE). The plan is to add the capstone course, Engineering Design and Development (EDD) beyond next year and have our PLTW program become fully accredited/recognized by PLTW.

     In addition, all of the PLTW courses, along with the robotics class, will be offered at the honors level for students next year. We anticipate that this increase in the availability of honors level T&EE courses will attract an increased diversity of students to the program. Teachers are committed to providing instruction and assessments at an honors level as specified in the provided PLTW curriculum that they receive during their training classes. The appropriate teachers are scheduled to receive training classes for the CEA and CSE courses this summer. The faculty will market the remaining T&EE elective high school courses so that all levels of students will be interested in taking these classes, and their parents will be well-informed as well.




     Technology and Engineering Education Course Descriptions

    PLTW: Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) 
    GRADE LEVEL: 9-12

    Introduction to Engineering is a hands-on course that develops student’s problem solving and critical thinking skills through the design process. In this course, students will use 3D modeling software called AutoDesk Inventor, and will document their work to communicate solutions to peers and members of the professional community. 

    PLTW: Principles of Engineering (POE)
    GRADE LEVEL: 10-12

    Principles of Engineering is a course that exposes students to major concepts they will encounter in postsecondary engineering courses of study. Students will employ scientific concepts in the solution of engineering design problems, as well as developing problem solving and critical thinking skills in terms of mechanisms, energy, statics, materials, and kinematics.

    PLTW: Digital Electronics (DE)
    GRADE LEVEL:  10-12

    Digital Electronics (DE) provides the foundation for all modern electronic devices such as cellphones, MP3 players, laptop computers, video-game systems, and HDTV. The major focus of the DE course is to expose students to electronics laws and concepts, design processes, and engineering standards. Students will gain experience with a variety of hands-on activities including soldering, bread-boarding of circuits, and programming Arduino-based robots. Students will use industry-standard software to plan, simulate, test and troubleshoot various digital logic circuits.

    PLTW: Civil Engineering and Architecture (CE)
    GRADE LEVEL: 9-12

    Civil Engineering and Architecture is a hands-on course where the students will solve problems using real life scenarios that civil engineers and architects face daily.  The students will use 3-D design software to solve problems in the areas of land surveying, water resources & management, environmental issues, soil testing, architectural building design, landscape design, model building and structural strength of materials. 

    PLTW: Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSE)
    GRADE LEVEL: 10-12

    Computer Science and Software Engineering will develop computational thinking skills used to solve practical problems in the real world.  Focus will be placed on object oriented programming environments, specifically the Python language.  Additionally, students will code their own applications for use on provided Android tablets.  Students will also create interactive web 2.0 software working with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

    GRADE LEVEL: 9-12

    Robotics has been designed for students who would like to explore the rapidly expanding technologies involved in building, programming, and controlling robots. Through the use of the LEGO MINDSTORMS® robotic kits, the students will build robots that use light, ultrasonic, sound, touch, and motion sensors to perform a variety of tasks. TETRIX®, an aluminum construction set, and RC controllers are introduced to the students to build stronger and more powerful robots. These robots require coding in the language RobotC.  The course parallels Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Academy.


    Our Mathematics curriculum provides advanced placement opportunities for students. Math is at the core of many of the calculations as well as the analytical and problem solving nature of science, technology and engineering challenges and lab activities faced by our students.


    • Advanced Placement Statistics course exposes students to four major statistical themes: Exploring Data, Sampling and Experimentation, Anticipating Patterns, and Statistical Inferencing. This accelerated statistics class prepares students for taking the recommended Advanced Placement Statistics Examination.


    • Advanced Placement Calculus is an accelerated Calculus course and will cover all the topics included in an Advanced Placement program. It is recommended that students taking this course take the Advanced Placement Calculus AB Examination.


    • Advanced Placement Computer Math Java is an advanced course in Java emphasizing programming methodology and functional abstraction, including the study of algorithms, data structures, and data manipulation with respect to the APCS Java subset. Topics of the AP Computer Science curriculum, Level A and AB will be examined. It is recommended that students taking this course take the Advanced Placement examination in computer science at the end of this course.

    Our Business Computers and Information Technology (BCIT) curriculum is connected to STEM education as summarized below--current classroom teaching and plans for the 2015 – 2016 school year.
    - Information Technology 1 is a Microsoft Excel course where students learn to transfer and manipulate data into database, spreadsheet and chart format.  Students apply Excel functions to interpret, filter and generate desired output.  Students also learn how to produce reports that correctly show data supporting an intended message.
    - Information Technology 2 is an advanced Microsoft Excel course that builds expert skills.  Advanced skills involving functions, formulas, validation, lookups, integration and multi-page projects are covered, as well as a unit in Microsoft Access.  Students completing this course are expected to be prepared to take the Microsoft Certification Test in Excel and the department hopes to be a testing site for the 2015-2016 school year and beyond.
    - Microsoft Certification Prep is a course that will be offered in September.  Curriculum will support student preparation for Microsoft Certification testing in Word and PowerPoint.  Microsoft Publisher and a unit in Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software will also be taught.  Skill development in Microsoft application software will include: formatting documents, integration of software applications, mail merge with databases, plus incorporating  digital imaging, voice, sound and video.  The department hopes to be a testing site for the 2015-2016 school year and beyond.
    - Business SIM and APP Programming is a course that will be offered in September.  It will replace the current Programming and Web Design course.  Students will create APPs and practical business simulations, then market the APP/SIM through a custom designed website.  Languages and software include: HTML, CSS, Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, Gamemaker, Alice, Scratch and JavaScript.  Opportunities will be available for students to submit projects to various computer science and business competitions (FBLA).
    - Social Networking for Careers is a course that strengthens communication skills through computer networking.  Students learn how to build personal profiles on seven social media platforms to positively influence career opportunities and engage prospective employers.  Students also learn to navigate with MS Outlook to improve organizational skills.  These computer networking skills can also be utilized in most marketing and public relations positions today.
    - Cyber Forensics and Digital Law is a course that will be offered in September.  It will focus on computer forensics as a way to build evidence in civil and criminal high tech cases.  Students will access computer hardware and system software on “stand alone” computers to experience the effects of fraud.  Students will learn how to protect digital content and become familiar with the cyber law applied to the use of computers, transactions conducted over the Internet, cellphones, and software or hardware storage devices.

    Google Classroom is being utilized as a classroom management tool in eight BCIT courses.  Students access their Google Classroom to receive assignments, submit work, obtain files for lessons and collaborate with classmates.  Students are also using Google applications for lessons and developing file management skills through Google Drive.  The Cloud-based applications allow students to access their classroom anywhere, encouraging students to become active in online learning environments.

    Virtual Business Simulations from Knowledge Matters Inc. are web based simulations mirroring “real world” business operations.   Students manipulate software to reflect business decisions that hopefully achieve benchmarks.   Students interpret conditions, analyze options, compute needs, make decisions, manipulate software, evaluate effectiveness and initiate change in operations if needed.  There are Virtual Business Simulations in five BCIT courses: Entrepreneurship, Finance and Investment, Marketing for Fashion and Hospitality, Marketing for Sports and Entertainment, and Management for Sports and Entertainment.


    Figure 1
     STEM chart


     Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Occupations 2008 – 2018, PA Department of Labor & Industry

     Discussion should continue about increasing the credit requirement for graduation; one of the credit requirements could be a STEM-designated course. Neshaminy High School does have a lower than average credit requirement in the region. 

    With a greater percentage of occupations in Pennsylvania having a STEM focus (Fig. 1), we should be doing more to expose students to STEM fields of study. The ongoing addition of PLTW courses would serve this purpose well. Some of the current and more updated elective courses in BCIT (Macroeconomics and Microeconomics) and FCS (Textile Design, Engineering and Construction) could be considered STEM courses. Adding more semester-length math and science electives could support this requirement as well, e.g., a semester long course in bioengineering or biochemistry, an advanced programming course with applications in a variety of STEM fields, etc. PLTW has engineering and science based course options for these content areas. We do need to keep in mind the need to have enough students in these classes for them to run which will impact staffing and room utilization. 



     The high school robotics team will continue to develop into 2015-16 as more students choose to take robotics classes and as the younger summer STEM academy students make their way to the high school.  We will also continue to identify and participate in STEM contests and activities offered throughout the state to support more of these co- and extracurricular opportunities for students. Our nature/Envirothon, environmental action, science, MATHletes and Future Business Leaders of America clubs continue to be active. 

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