Changes to the Engineering Program at ARS

Changes to the Engineering Program at ARS

Hello! Erin, Izzy, Kayla, and Bonnie here!  In the past year, we’ve undergone a lot of changes in our engineering program. First, we received a grant for our new  This sleek, modern facility has assisted us in our endeavors to learn more about engineering, and allowing us to make our creative ideas come into reality. Then, we added Art to our engineering program, changing the well-known acronym STEM to STEAM. Our school has really changed this year’s engineering program, but how did it begin in the first place? We’re about to take a walk down memory lane, all the way back to 6th grade when our first experience with engineering began. Then, we will make our way back to the present, where we will discuss our plans for the Makerspace, and STEAM.


In sixth grade, we started learning about one of the aspects that define our school. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is the basic engineering class that all sixth graders must take. In addition to doing a lot of small building projects made out of simple materials like popsicle sticks, toothpicks, straws, toilet paper rolls, legos, cardboard, and hot glue, we also learned about ancient numerals, math concepts, programming, and many other topics. In all truth, STEM was preparing us for all the challenges that we would experience in our future years at ARS.

Recently STEM has evolved to prepare new-coming sixth graders even more for our future classes in middle and high school. STEM has now become STEAM, so it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. With the addition of Art, STEM now incorporates preparing for the arts. This is exposing us to a more creative side of education that allows students in this program to be able to show how their minds work. It encourages them to think in a different way.


Seventh grade PLTW and eighth grade PLTW were had many differences. In seventh grade, we started learning the basics of the design process. The projects weren’t as hands-on and independent, except for the project where we built real lawn ornaments out of wood, paint, and nails. At the end of seventh grade PLTW, we learned how to use the computer program, Inventor. Seventh grade PLTW was showing and preparing us for the more advanced projects in eighth grade PLTW.

In eighth grade PLTW, you have more freedom to let your creativity go. What I mean by this, is that everyone gets to choose what project, or “module,” they want to work on. So, everyone in the class is doing something unique and different. Having everyone doing a different project, makes the class less structured, but as I said before you get more freedom to do what you want (and not just what the teacher assigns you). Plus, you are always working in a group, so it isn’t as complicated. Another thing that is a lot different from seventh PLTW to eighth grade PLTW is that almost all our assignments are online.

From STEM/STEAM to seventh grade PLTW to eighth grade PLTW, it has been a little crazy.  All of the classes are very different. STEM (which is now STEAM) was more of a basic idea of what was to come. There was some building, but not much. In 7th grade PLTW there was lots of designing and building. We designed, sawed and built our own lawn ornaments. We also designed many things with a computer program. This year (8th grade) has been the most independent and involves more creation.  In 8th grade we are able to use our new Makerspace to make all sorts of  things, based on our interests.  In the area we are calling the “clean lab”, we can discuss, make new ideas, and work on the computers that are easily accessible to all students.  In the “dirty lab” we are actually making and building physical objects. Some renovations are still in progress, but we have started using it and are anxious to see the finished product!

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