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Students show off engineering projects
Engineering Lexi
LEXIE ZEE designed a photo frame and recreated it on the computer for the design and modeling class at Darlington Elementary-Middle School.

DARLINGTON—New classes at the Darlington Community School District have led students to participate in the STEMposium at University of Wisconsin-Platteville this week.
Three engineering classes were added to the Darlington School’s curriculum for the 2011-12 school year as part of Project Lead the Way, a national program that introduces engineering classes into middle and high school classrooms. Two of the classes—design and modeling and automation and robotics—are geared toward seventh and eighth graders; introduction to engineering design is for high school students. In 2012-13 principles of engineering will also be added to the curriculum at the high school. Steve Fitzsimons teaches the seventh and eighth grade classes; Roger Zee teaches introduction to engineering design; and Brent Whalen will be the instructor for principles of engineering next year.
Zee said there is a consortium of schools in this area that are teaching these same classes.
“Project Lead the Way is a national engineering program thats purpose is to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and integrate that into a class so the students get experience doing real world engineering type projects,” Zee said. “We have a program called engineering is elementary where they get a little bit of it in the elementary grades.”
Zee said the school applied for a grant, which awarded $60,000 to use over a three-year period. It was divided between the middle and high school engineering courses.
Zee said the teachers for these classes had to do intense training in Milwaukee. They took the same courses the students will be expected to complete, but worked through all of the projects in 10 days instead of an entire school year.
“The high school engineering courses are articulated through the technical school programs and through engineering schools,” Zee said.
He said the colleges will offer advanced placement for students who successfully take the high school engineering courses and enter into an engineering field at the college level.
STEMposium will be held Thursday, April 26, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Velzy Commons in Ullsvik Hall at UW-Platteville. Darlington students will display their class projects at the event.

Student projects
Lexie Zee, an eighth grader in the design and modeling class, created a moveable wooden photo frame and replicated it on the computer, which allows the parts to animate. Part of the project will be creating plans to reproduce the item.
“This is how engineers create prototypes,” Roger Zee said. “As an eighth grader, she’s probably doing above what was taught at her grade level 10 years ago. Ten years ago this would have been college material.”
Sam Cohen, an eighth grader in the automation and robotics class, is assembling a mobile robot that uses vex cortex, one of about five different coding materials. The options are endless for his project.
“It’s complex,” Cohen said. “I’m still deciding what it will do when it’s done.”
He is nearly done building it, but has to get it moving. To get the project activated, he has to do some coding, something he has no experience with.
Katie Carlson, a senior in the introduction to engineering class, disassembled a pencil sharpener, recreated the parts on the computer and showed how each functioned to sharpen a pencil.
“Once I disassembled it I realized how complex it was,” Carlson said. “Once you break down the parts and see where they’re at, it’s not as difficult as it seems at first. I didn’t really know how the pencil sharpener came together, so it was nice to learn about it and figure it out.”
Scott McDaniel, a senior, has been participating in engineering projects since his freshman year. For the introduction to engineering project he made a picture frame with his name. He is able to enter all of the parts into the computer program and then move them around and reassemble the frame.
“There’s so many different things you can do with [the program],” McDaniel said.
These four students, along with a fifth student, Brady McDaniel, and their instructors will be at the STEMposium with their projects.