Connecting the CEA Classroom to the Community

Mrs. Wendy Stearns teaches Principles of Engineering (POE) and Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA), as well as algebra for self-contained special education students. She teaches at Schalmont High School in Schenectady, New York. 

In an effort to bring in some real-world connections, the Civil Engineering and Architecture class at Schalmont High School has participated in a variety of activities developed to support and enhance the curriculum.

The students designed small homes and businesses for staff members who serve as clients for the students. The students and staff were provided with certain requirements. The students meet with staff members to select options to fit their clients’ ideas.

The students also participated in a fundraiser run by middle school English teacher Elisa Pepe. The fundraiser was for the nonprofit organization Building Minds in South Sudan, which raises funds to build schools. The CEA students designed schools and presented a booklet of their plans to the ambassadors for the program.

The final project for the class includes a design for a local area. Projects have included building designs for local vacant property on campus and near campus, a new lock area for land devastated by hurricane Irene, and the expansion to a nearby mall project. The students are given parameters and community members visit the class, providing guidance. The project culminates with an informal presentation for judges from the area. Judges include architects, engineers, town planners, and professors. Connecting to the community is an important part of the goals we have set for our Project Lead The Way programs. It provides the students with chances to interact with professionals from our school staff and the community, creating lifelong learners on paths to success.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of this guest author.