High school class opens technology's horizons

This article submitted by Molly Connors on 9/10/96.

The high school is offering a new class called Principle of Technology to juniors and seniors. The class will cover seven units: force, work, rate, resistance, energy, power and power transformers. The students apply four systems to each unit: mechanical, electrical, fluid and thermal systems.

Kevin Shimak, an industrial arts teacher at PAHS, said he came up with the idea two years ago. Along with other teachers, he worked toward bringing a new class into the PAHS curriculum.

Teachers are always looking at changes in the world outside of school, Shimak said. They constantly consider adjustments to prepare their students for these changes. If a teacher remains stagnant, Shimak said, kids see it. They don't take the classes anymore, or they feel that they, too, have no need to change and adapt.

"You have to stay with the times," he said.

The class helps students who are looking at technology-related careers through either technical schools or four- year degrees. Everything in the work force is becoming "more technology based," Shimak said Workers also need a good math and science background.

The new class gives students an edge: they will be "more comfortable and confident" and possess the "yeah, I can do this" attitude. This will help them out in the work force, at two-year colleges or at four-year colleges, Shimak said.

Aside from giving students extra technological experience, the class provides the answer to the age-old questions of algebra students: What good is this class? Will we use it in real life?

Here, they "actually get a number ... actually get an answer," Shimak said.

Kids see how the technology works in the real world in their field trips. Then, they learn how to manipulate and use the technology through their classes.

When kids see that their studies do have real-world applications, they become interested in their classroom activities.

Mathematical applications from the Pythagorean Thereom to Newton's Law will be applied in the Principles class.

Jay Thompson teaches the class, which has ten students in it. In his classroom, there are six stations. Each is equipped with an IBM-compatible computer. This can be hooked up to a physical instrument panel. There are four different panels - one for each system.

The panel for the mechanical system has a flywheel. It also has measuring instruments and adjustments for the flywheel speed.

The computer programs use both DOS and Windows '95. Their familiarity with applications are another benefit students will take away from this class.

All the glitches haven't been worked out yet. The first lab includes a scale, which "will tell you you're wrong, but you're right," Thompson said.

The bugs in the system aren't all bad. They help kids "see that the computer isn't always right, that you have to check it," Thompson said.

Students signed up for the Principles class for various reasons. Some are thinking of their future, while others feel the need to stay current.

"Technology is kind of cool. I like to keep up," senior Josh Zwiefel said.

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