Stevenson teacher offers students chance to help others

 
Daily Herald reports
Posted5/14/2018 6:00 AM
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  • Stevenson High School teacher Mike Anderson, right, talks to engineering student Michael Kowalski in the Projects Lead The Way -- Engineering, Design and Development class in Lincolnshire. Kowalski is using a laser cutter to make a 3-D rectangular prism for a wind turbine to generate electricity.

      Stevenson High School teacher Mike Anderson, right, talks to engineering student Michael Kowalski in the Projects Lead The Way -- Engineering, Design and Development class in Lincolnshire. Kowalski is using a laser cutter to make a 3-D rectangular prism for a wind turbine to generate electricity. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Michael Anderson thinks he must have one of the best jobs.

The 30-year-old applied arts teacher at Stevenson High School says part of his day involves teaching students how to develop solutions for the real world in the school's capstone engineering course.

"We have students creating products that keep people from falling asleep while driving, making clean water for people stuck in natural disasters, or keeping college students safe as they walk through campus, "Anderson said.

"They get to do this while using machines like laser engravers, CNC machines, and 3-D printers."

And, the other part of his day "is teaching students how to program and create video games using software that some of the games they play at home were made with," he said.

Anderson's entire seven-year teaching career has been at Stevenson, where he teaches Project Lead the Way -- Engineering Design and Development, Introduction to Engineering Design and Game Development courses. He's also co-sponsor of the school's VEX Robotics team. He says he works alongside an amazing technology education team that makes it fun to come to work each day.

Q. What do you like most about teaching students about manufacturing and applied sciences?

A. I really like seeing students find their passions, and even future careers. I like seeing students begin to understand everything that goes into the products they use every day. I also get to see students put their ideas and interests into action while they get to make something. I have some unbelievable students that continuously impress me with their creativity.

Q. What does the curriculum include, and why is it important today?

A. There has always been a theme of problem solving and creating in our technology education courses. Our classes typically work where students are taught some new concept then are challenged with a problem that doesn't have a single way of being solved.

Students have the opportunity to put the newly learned concepts into action as they work with other students to find a solution. The world needs more problem solvers, and that is what we are trying to cultivate in our classes.

Q. What do you do to make learning fun and spark student interest in the material?

A. Everything is related back to the real world. In our capstone engineering course, students are tasked (with) identifying a real-world problem and then creating a solution for it.

I think part of the fun is they get to use all sorts of different machines and tools to create their solutions. However, I think students really buy in knowing what they create in this class could actually help someone.

Q. How should students know if they are well-suited for this program and a possible career in this area?

A. If you are curious how something was made, why it was made a certain way, or if you think you could make it better than current solutions, you should check out our courses. Our classes are all about solving problems through building and making.

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