Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Physics: Classes Keep Energy of Students in Constant Motion

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Physics: Classes Keep Energy of Students in Constant Motion

Article excerpt

Desmond Ort, a senior at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School, is enjoying a new course called physics of technology because it's a "great way to exercise the brain."

At a recent class, Desmond wiped up puddles of green hydraulic fluid that had spurted from an open tube in a pressure test. He says the class is "hard, but it challenges you."

His lab partner, Denise Mitchell, a senior, likes doing experiments to learn about vector, something with magnitude and direction, and torque, a force that produces a rotating motion.

Their teacher, Dave Roberts, who retired from being a pilot in the Air Force and is in his first year as a teacher, says the goal of the class is to give students experience in using technology similar to what they would use in jobs or at college.

The physics lab is equipped with $40,000 of equipment, which includes oscilloscopes for testing electrical systems, function generators for producing electric signals, devices for pressure and water testing, and computers and VCRs. The new class changed physics from a class that relied on rote learning and lectures.

From math and science to communications, home economics and industrial arts, students at Maplewood this year are taking new classes designed to prepare them for life after high school. The school, which is in the second year of a three-year $450,000 A-Plus grant from the state Department of Education, is turning students on with an applied curriculum.

Connie Leech, director of the A-Plus program, says the idea is to push all students to graduate and to continue their education after high school. Administrators hope that the new courses will boost to 82 percent from 60 percent the number of graduates who continue in school.

Ernie Perkins, principal, said, "We're not trying to make this a technical school, but we want everyone to be successful whether they go to a technical school, work or college. More and more employers are telling us that kids are not prepared."

An advisory committee of representatives from St. Louis Bread Co., Sunnen Products Co., a machine tool manufacturer, and Carr Lane Manufacturing Co., a nuts and bolts manufacturer, works with the school.

Jean Miller, director of human resources at Sunnen, says, "The idea is to bring the needs of businesses to the school. We always are short of good machinists, but we want employees who are responsible, have a good work ethic and good attendance."

Students in Connie Agard's applied communications class are learning how to communicate with clients and customers and to solve problems. Besides learning basic English skills, they design ads, develop commercials and practice interviews by using $32,000 in VCRs, IBM computers and a television.

Jason Watkins, a junior, recently put finishing touches on a design for a cereal product he called "Mint Pepperdoodles. …

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