Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bright Minds Lead Way Pike Central Program Hooks Students on Science Studies

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bright Minds Lead Way Pike Central Program Hooks Students on Science Studies

Article excerpt

PETERSBURG, Ind. - Pike Central High School Principal LeAnne Kelley was leaving a home basketball game last week when she noticed lights on in the Project Lead the Way wing of her school. "At 9 p.m., kids were still milling around, working on their projects," she said.

It's a common occurrence. Pike Central students enrolled in the Biomedical Sciences and Pathways to Engineering classes have infectious enthusiasm for their studies, Kelley said.

Teachers in both disciplines seldom, if ever, use textbooks. And the students love it. They said they have everything they need - laptops, lab equipment and, most of all, their own minds.

"The biggest thing for me is, it's hands-on," said Zach Riddle, a junior in Pathways to Engineering. "That's the superior way to learn something."

Numerous schools in the region have Project Lead the Way courses, although Pike Central's program has been on quite a roll lately.

It was recognized in November as a Project Lead the Way Model School by the national organization, which is led by former Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. Superintendent Vincent Bertram. The school has had numerous visitors, including a group from the University of Illinois last week.

Pike Central students also have had opportunities to take their rural Indiana know-how on the road.

The school was one of only 14 nationally to receive a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lemelson grant to fund a mobile shelter project. Students built a sturdy, lightweight plastic shelter designed for use in disaster situations. Riddle and other Pike Central engineering students went to MIT last year to present their design.

It included solar power, a battery-operated electrical system and a water filtration system to kill harmful bacteria.

Engineering students are preparing for robotics competitions at Purdue University and Xavier University. The assigned task is to build a basketball-playing model no bigger than 61 inches tall and 120 pounds.

The Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center donated a Humvee to Pike Central. Students are researching ways to make the vehicle operate autonomously.

Pathways to Engineering teacher Ray Niehaus said the curriculum's "openness" to new possibilities is what sets it apart. …

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