Ridgefield Sch. Dist.
Ridgefield's High School and Beyond Program helps students plan for their future after graduation (Photo)
McKenna helped organize this year's Volunteer Fair where students investigated local nonprofits and charities
Monday, March 3, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Students at Ridgefield High School can get help planning for life after graduation by using the school's free High School and Beyond Program.
Students need to prioritize planning for life after high school as soon as possible in their educational career. For example, students planning to head to college need to ensure they meet the minimum requirements to apply. "A student cannot attend a four-year college without taking foreign language, and sometimes students realize this late in their high school career," said Amy McKenna, a Certified Occupational Information Specialist and CTE teacher who serves as the program's coordinator. "Students need to think about the possibilities for their lives after high school starting in their freshman year."
To help students plan ahead, McKenna works closely with the high school counseling team to help put on events like career fairs and inviting college recruiters to speak with students about applying and how to access financial aid options. In addition, McKenna provides extra support for students by working one-on-one with them on college applications, applying for college scholarships, writing resumes and cover letters, and investigating foreign exchange programs.
The High School and Beyond Program shows students what their high school education can do for them. "Students can explore their options in high school by trying different classes to explore their interests," said McKenna. "Students can investigate their options for free now instead of having to pay for college courses later."
McKenna helps students explore all of their post-secondary school options, not just four-year colleges. Other post-secondary options include: technical schools, community colleges, signing up for military service, trade apprenticeships and many others. "With only 25% of high school graduates attending college on average nationally, we know not every Ridgefield graduate will go on to college," said McKenna.
For students who are unsure what career might interest them, the High School and Beyond Program offers free career placement tests. "Students can take tests to help determine which career paths might fit their specific skills and personalities," said McKenna. "Students may know generic fields like being a teacher or a nurse, but when they start diving into the details, they can discover a career path that more closely fits their particular interests."
McKenna organized the annual Volunteer Fair held during school hours in the gymnasium inviting representatives from nonprofit organizations throughout the area. "Every Ridgefield student must complete a minimum of 30 hours of community service in order to meet graduation requirements and finish their culminating project," said McKenna. "The community service requirement also offers students the opportunity to explore different types of career options by volunteering for these real-world employers."
Students seeking future-planning assistance can drop in at the High School and Beyond Program located in the library throughout the school day. In addition, students can visit the Career Center webpage at http://bit.ly/RHSCareerCenter
for updates on campus visits; career and college resources; financial aid and scholarship information; upcoming events; volunteer opportunities; and links to the military.
Ridgefield's second graders learn fractions and multiplication by cooking in class (Photo)
Students made enough cookies for their families, too
Monday, February 17, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Second graders in Lorie Hugo's class at South Ridge Elementary School learn higher-level math with fractions and multiplication by cooking treats in class.
Students must earn the special cooking lessons by being respectful and responsible in class; receiving compliments from adults for their good work; and receiving good reports from school specialists like art and music teachers. "These cooking projects provide positive reinforcement to teach the students how to be good citizens and respect one another," said Hugo.
For each cooking session, Hugo uses the recipe as a math lesson on fractions and multiplication by having the students calculate the doubled or tripled recipe. "We also collect each recipe for a class cookbook," explained Hugo. "Students write up each recipe as an expository writing lesson including the ingredients and directions."
Hugo's love for teaching cooking to her classes began when she started her teaching career 17 years ago. She studied and received her food handler permit to prepare. "I started cooking lessons as a way for students to relate math to a real-world activity," she said. "In addition, many students don't get a chance to cook or bake at home, so this is a great opportunity for them to learn a valuable life skill."
During the cooking lesson on Valentine's Day, students made sugar cookies. For each ingredient, the class calculated the fractional quantity and solved for how much of the fraction made up part of the whole by filling in parts of circles. For example, students needed to double 3/4 a cup of butter, calculating the total as 1-1/2 cups. "Recipes are a great way for students to learn about fractions," said Hugo. "Fractions aren't a part of the curriculum for second grade, but my hope is that students will remember this project when their future teacher introduces them to fractions."
In table teams, students took turns adding each ingredient and mixing it into the bowl. "I don't cook at home so it's fun to cook in class," said Gunnar Martin, a second grader. "Cooking also helps me understand fractions, and I really like math." Lily Cox, one of Martin's classmates, agreed, "I don't get to cook a lot at home, so it's really fun to earn cooking sessions by being good and receiving compliments."
The South Ridge Parent-Teacher Association provides a $250 grant for Hugo to purchase ingredients for all of the cooking sessions for the year. Hugo's parents volunteer for each cooking session to help with the workload. Other recipes the class made throughout the year include: gingerbread cookies, homemade applesauce and pumpkin bread. Later this year, the class will make Irish Soda Bread, Irish stew and strawberry shortcake.
If reading about cooking lessons has made you hungry or you'd like to perform a cooking lesson at home, you can try making Hugo's sugar cookies with her recipe:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Shape cookies on a cookie sheet to about 1/2" in thickness. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until brown.
Ridgefield's middle school uses three-dimensional printers and computer-controlled helicopters to teach STEM (Photo)
Faike uses quadcopters to teach students about the many possible uses for automated drones
Monday, February 10, 2014-Ridgefield, WA-Three-dimensional printers and computer-controlled quadcopters help STEM students at View Ridge Middle School make the virtual world into reality and literally reach for the skies.
Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classes at View Ridge Middle School use a computer-aided drafting (CAD) program called AutoDesk Inventor to model a three-dimensional object in the digital world. The program sends the plans to create the object to a 3D printer which prints the object in the real world using plastic. The printers melt a plastic resin and apply it to a printing surface layer-by-layer to recreate the designed object.
Working in both the virtual and real world makes the projects appeal to many students. "I really like creating anything," said Kevin Koch, a seventh grader. "The 3D printers are really interesting because you can physically show your virtual concept with the real model."
For one of their first projects with the new 3D printers, students formed teams to design and create models of playgrounds. Each team included a manager and employees, with the managers elected by the group. "The manager-employee structure helps introduce students to the concepts of working in a real-world corporate environment," said Tylor Hankins, one of View Ridge Middle School's STEM teachers. "In addition, working as teams cuts down on the number of playground models we need to create which is essential since the program has a limited number of printers."
At the end of each class, the managers for each group present class-time performance summaries to discuss their team's progress as well as the challenges the group faced during work. Students discussed their coworkers' roles and what they needed to accomplish to finish their project. "The most challenging part of being a manager is keeping everyone on task," said Nick Lehto, a seventh grader. "However, being able to direct people and keep track of what everyone needed to do to meet our project deadlines was a lot of fun."
For last year's playground project, students designed the playgrounds on the computer, but had to create the models by hand resulting in final projects that only resembled the virtual design. "I really like working with the 3D printers because you actually get to see your own design in the real world," said Callie Stenersen, a seventh grader. "This year, the students have been incredibly excited because the printers produce models that are identical to their designs," said Hankins.
The STEM program started using three-dimensional printers at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year following receipt of a $5,000 grant from CenturyLink and OSPI to purchase five PrintrBot PLUS printers in late spring. Hankins received additional funding through DonorsChoose, a nonprofit website where teachers post desired projects for funding from website visitors, to purchase a MakerBot Replicator 2. "DonorsChoose is crowd-funding for teachers," explained Hankins. "MakerBot, a 3D printer manufacturer, set their goal to put a MakerBot printer in every school in the United States and selected DonorsChoose as the way to meet their goal."
In order to save money to purchase more printers, Hankins elected to assemble the printers from scratch with the help of dedicated parent volunteers. "Each printer takes about 20 hours to assemble, making putting together five of them an intense project," said Hankins.
Hankins points out that the cost of the printers can make projects like these prohibitive without outside assistance, "These projects simply wouldn't be possible without the support of companies like CenturyLink, MakerBot and DonorsChoose," he said. "Their dedication to education and supporting young minds helps smaller school districts like Ridgefield provide truly advanced technology to enrich student curriculum."
Later this spring, students in STEM will build and fly their own quadcopters thanks to a new educational nonprofit organization called Hoverlabs, founded by software engineer Brett Faike.
Hoverlabs will provide quadcopters to View Ridge's STEM program so students can fly them in teams. Quadcopters are remote-controlled helicopters which use four rotor blades to fly instead of two permitting them greater maneuverability and stability. Unlike typical remote-control vehicles which are operated manually directly by the pilot, quadcopters contain microcomputer chips which allow students to develop complex programs to tell the aircraft to fly patterns, take photos or video, and even follow specific patrol routes using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).
Faike only recently developed his proficiency with quadcopters himself after seeing a blog post about a pilot flying his quadcopter using video goggles. "The video made me realize there's so much to learn and teach about radios and electronics when using quadcopters," said Faike. "I see an unlimited amount of learning that these quadcopters can offer students and schools."
Recent publicity from Amazon.com's Drone Delivery Program motivates Faike to teach students about other non-military uses for drones and remote-controlled vehicles. "I hate how the word 'drone' creates connotations of how these quadcopters are bad or going to spy on people," said Faike. "These quadcopters are educational tools."
Faike sees other uses developing for quadcopters and other flying devices. "Drones could be used in search and rescue programs where automated squadrons could help locate lost hikers or climbers," said Faike. "Computer-controlled vehicles could help map wilderness areas, carry life preservers to swimmers in trouble, and much more."
Faike connected with View Ridge Middle School when he sat next to Principal Chris Griffith on an airplane coming back from a school technology conference. "Chris saw the quadcopter I had under my seat on the plane," said Faike. "Once he saw it, he said 'I have to have those at my school' and that's all it took." For more information about Hoverlabs, visit www.hoverlabs.org.