By Jeri Martinez-Fink
LWISD Communications Coordinator
On a Wednesday morning at Lake Worth High School engineering teacher Thomas Bowers explains to his introduction to engineering design and development students that they are to build a tower as high as they can – by using a 100-pack of index cards. The catch to this project is the index card tower must hold a full 16-ounce water bottle.
Bowers came to LWHS this school year to start the engineering program within the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. The program was made possible with a generous grant from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation. In its first year, there are 95 students enrolled in his classes.
“I started off my students with an Engineering Notebook (EN), which will be used daily for class work, and had them write proprietary information on the bottom of each page,” he said. “This is the standard format used and Research and Development departments within engineering firms.”
The EN also contains a Table of Contents (TOC) which the students can refer to later if they need to review material covered in the course. During the year students will use the ENs to brainstorm ideas, create various sketches, multiple calculations, project ideas, project challenges, and the results of the projects.
“I am teaching them as if they are the general contractor by using real world experiences,” Bowers said.
Some projects for the year include the recent tower along with building a paper bridge, paper race car, a mini golf course, a Chinese puzzle cube, and more.
“Learning can be fun if you put in some fun, quirky projects in the lessons,” he said.
Junior Jef Harold was excited about having the engineering program this year.
“Engineering is something I see myself needing as a secondary for my future job,” Harold said. “I am liking the course and hoping to increase my knowledge of engineering while at LWHS.”
For freshman Gabriell Garcia, he had an interest in building different things and why he wanted to take the engineering class.
“The class has been interesting so far and Mr. Bowers has been making it fun with the hands-on projects,” Garcia said. “My goal is to learn everything I can in this class and in the future.”
Bowers was no stranger to LWHS Principal Dr. Jeff Seeton as the two had previously worked together at a neighboring high school. Seeton brought Bowers in to start the engineering program 11 years ago and developed the program with the students being recognized and winning numerous awards for their work.
“I have great respect for Dr. Seeton and jumped at the opportunity to work with him again,” Bowers said. “I am big in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and my goal at Lake Worth High School is to do what I did previously again here.”
Prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year, he attended a month-long educator workshop at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They worked on firing rockets by building test engines and getting the chance to see how they are assembled and placed into rockets.
“It was like getting to play in a big lab,” he said. “I was offered an opportunity to attend another workshop next summer for six weeks.”
Bowers was a flight test engineer for Lockheed Martin for 27 1/2 years before becoming a teacher. He has a degree in aviation management and aerospace engineering from Auburn University.
A fun fact about Bowers is that he performed stunts in the new “Top Gun: Maverick” movie. He had to attend the Top Gun school then was able to film the stunts with a camera behind him. However, you will not see his face in the movie, but there’s a possibility that one of the stunts in the movie was his.
His goal for the engineering program at LWHS is to get more female students interested in engineering. Right now, there are around 30 in the program, and he would like to see that number increase in the coming years. Texas A&M University has a Society of Women Engineers organization and would like to take the juniors and seniors to visit, so they can see what they can pursue in college.
A new course will be added every year to the curriculum such as aerospace and digital electronic with a capstone project, where students can work with a mentor for hands-on, real-world experiences, for the students’ senior year.
For more information about LWISD’s Career and Technical Education program, visit www.lwisd.org.
Holli Grant teaches Geoscience at Lake Worth High School and received news over the summer that she was chosen to attend the Climate and Equity Institute at the Schoodic Institute Campus in Maine.
The institute is put on by TERC, an independent research-based nonprofit organization that closely evaluates and measures the impacts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) on learning experiences, and was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
“Goals of this program was to talk about the extreme climate impacts,” Grant said. “One thing that was interesting was the eco-anxiety, which I didn’t experience until this past spring with my students in Geoscience.”
The ice core labs measured the CO2. Through this, they learned not only that the CO2 levels were on the rise, but also the effects of that rise. Grant’s students felt helpless as they saw the data and processed it.
“During my week there, we had several people come to talk to us about how to deal with our own eco-anxieties in addition to our students,” she said. “The equity part was the education of global warming but talking about its inequitable effects.”
Grant was one of 12 high school teachers from across the country to receive this invitation, which was a one-week conference at the institute in Acadia National Park.
“The goal was to discuss equitable pedagogy, hear presentations about the global and psychological impacts of climate change, explore climate change impacts firsthand through guided field trips, and free time to pursue additional topics,” she said.
On the first day, Grant gave a presentation to her fellow peers about Lake Worth High School, the student population, and how she teaches her students to facilitate climate change on campus.
During the week they had the chance to listen and engage with experts from all over the country about how climate change impacts rural, suburban, and urban communities. They also had the chance to explore Acadia National Park where she was able to snap some pictures of different rocks to use in her classroom instruction this school year.
On the last day of the conference, the teachers brainstormed ideas for projects they wanted to complete this year. Grant jumped at the chance to join the subcommittee for a project called Green Talk, which is where students will get the opportunity to collaborate with other students across the country and have discussions on how climate change is affecting their areas. Students will then have the chance to analyze the information and compare how our area's climate differs from other schools
“This is taking our teacher experience we just had and bringing it to the classroom,” said Grant.
Another project Grant will be working on with three other teachers is creating a curriculum book that covers 100 days of climate change lessons.
“Students and teachers will be able to use this book to process how climate change impacts them, their communities, and the world,” Grant said. “It will include journaling, anxiety-coping mechanisms, the science behind climate change, and how it affects those areas. We want to impact as many people as we can with this book.”
After spending the week in Maine and learning new things to bring back to LWHS students, she now has a renewed sense of teaching.
“I have created a science club this year dedicated to students contributing to their campus, district, and community through the scientific lens,” Grant said. “I had about 20 students show up at our inaugural meeting and they are fired up about contributing to making a difference to their campus, district, and community.”
Grant is looking forward to this school year as she will implement the new ideas she brought back from the institute and see where her science club students do to help out the school district communities
Congratulations to Cynthia Robles and Cynthia Robinson, who were recognized as Child Nutrition employees of the month at the August board meeting. Thank you to Cynthia and Cynthia for going above and beyond in their jobs each day.
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