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PPS Students Lead the Way in STEM Learning

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PPS Students Lead the Way in STEM Learning
Posted on 11/10/2014

The Portland Public Schools, in partnership with EnviroLogix, held its first STEM Exposition on Monday, Nov. 10, at Portland’s Ocean Gateway Terminal, which was filled with crowds watching students demonstrate their knowledge in STEM: science, technology, engineering and math.

The exhibitions included one in which students used a 3D printer to print such plastic objects such as a toy frog and miniature race car and others in which they demonstrated engineering concepts or explained how the solar system works.

“We want to show all of you that the Portland Public Schools is leading the way in STEM education,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk, as he and John Markin, President and CEO of EnviroLogix, officially opened the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. exposition.

Markin said, “Just seeing the energy here in this room, shows that we made the right choice to join in this endeavor.”

EnviroLogix is a Portland-based company that develops and manufactures innovative detection technology for use in the worldwide food production chain. Markin has said EnviroLogix considers the STEM Expo both as an investment in the community and in potential future employees.

Caulk has noted that the STEM Expo is the first time the Portland community has come together to show how Portland Public School students, local businesses, and post-secondary schools are innovating in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Those are the fastest growing areas of the economy, he said, so students need STEM knowledge to prepare them for 21st century jobs.

Students from all of Portland’s public middle and high schools, the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS), and three elementary schools were among exhibitors at the event. Nearly 1,000 other Portland Public School students toured the exhibits during the course of the day.

One of the most popular exhibits was the 3D printer display manned by PATHS students Alex Girsh, Dylan Crovo and Tim Deng. Alex, from Portland High School, Dylan, from Cape Elizabeth High School and Tim, of Deering High School, were demonstrating how to print out such three-dimensional plastic objects as small toys or pieces of equipment.

Markin said of the 3-D exhibit, “For the kids to get exposed to that and get an idea of what’s possible, I think is really cool.”

Deering High School seniors Courtney Brett and Hannah Tuttle had an exhibit featuring the crime detection skills they acquired in their Forensic Science Class. While neither plans on being a criminologist – Courtney wants to go into sports medicine and Hannah is considering nursing – they said the knowledge of biology and anthropology they learned in the course would be helpful in a range of careers.

East End Community School fourth-graders Sincere Guess and Santana Richards displayed a student-made model of the solar system and explained the workings of the planets to visitors.

At a PATHS health science exhibit, senior Shoshanna McCollom was showing off a bearded dragon lizard named Chubs. Shoshanna has wanted to be a veterinarian since childhood so the Greely High School student is studying to be veterinary assistant at PATHS. Shoshanna said she hopes the STEM Expo helps “get the word out” that such classes are offered at PATHS.

Standing next to her were two PATHS classmates, Moya Johnson and Darriana Simard, both Portland High School seniors taking pre-nursing at PATHS. Their exhibit featured jars of Halloween but not for eating – their aim was make children aware of how sugar affects the body. Moya said their nursing training now, which includes actual clinical experience, “will give us a leg up” studying nursing in college.

At a Portland High School engineering exhibit, freshman Ezra Flint and senior Becky Scott were demonstrating the engineering principles of compound machines. Becky said she wanted to learn about engineering “before I get to college” to get more experience in the male-dominated field and help her hone in on a career. Ezra plans to study aerospace engineering in college but said engineering is important to any student because “it teaches the principles behind why everything works.”

Their classmate, Charles Winkelman, said he hoped that the STEM Expo “makes students more aware of STEM, because I think it’s a very important thing to be taught in schools.”

Two PATHS exhibits were outside the building. Angelo Magno, a Portland High School senior, and Jake Wall, a senior whose sending school is Windham High School, were demonstrating their blacksmithing skills using a forge. Blacksmithing is part of the welding and metal fabrication course PATHS offers, Angelo said.

Both are planning on careers in welding, but Jake wants to take his skills underwater, combining his interest in commercial diving and welding to work on ships below the waterline.

Nearby was a Ford Mustang and two PATHS automotive technology students, Kyle Kramlich of Greely High School, and Jared Sullivan, of Gray-New Gloucester High School, ready to explain the intricacies of a hydraulic braking system to visitors. With modern computerized cars, gone are the days of do-it-yourself driveway car mechanics the two seniors said.  Jared said, “Math, science and technology – all of them are necessary” to repair today’s cars.

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East End Community School fourth-grader Sincere Guess (left)
uses a model to explain how the solar system works. Americorps
member Bryn Gallagher (center) and fourth-grader Santana Richards look on.

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PATHS students Dylan Crovo (left) and Tim Deng demonstrate
three-dimensional printing at PPS' first STEM Expo.

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Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk and
EnviroLogix CEO and President John Markin open the first STEM Expo.

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(From left to right) PATHS student Shoshanna McCollom; science teacher Amber Richard;
and PATHS students Moya Johnson and Darriana Simard talk about human and aninal health
at an exhibit at the STEM Expo.

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PATHS students Angelo Magno (left) and Jake Wall
demonstrate blacksmithing at the PPS STEM Expo.

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(From left to right) East End Community School teacher Karen Fream
and fourth-graders Sincere Guess and Santana Richards pose with
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk at the STEM
Expo after the students explained the workings of the solar system, using their model.