Woodlake High bolsters STEM offerings

Ben Irwin

Woodlake High School to offer additional STEM classes for fall semester in anticipation of new aviation pathway and reinforcing engineering pathway

WOODLAKE – “Creating pathways to success” is the motto of academics at Woodlake High School, and they’re staying on course with a slew of new STEM classes to bolster current and upcoming pathways in engineering and aviation.

Physics for engineers and MESA (mathematics, engineering, science achievement) courses will be added to Woodlake High’s current engineering pathway. Physics for engineers will serve as a prerequisite to the pathway’s capstone MESA course, a hands-on, project-based lab class where students will work as teams to design solutions for local and global challenges by designing 3D CAD computer models and creating and testing prototypes using statistical analysis. The students will have the opportunity to present their solutions to live panels of industry experts.

Woodlake High School principal Dr. Mike Burchett, said the engineering pathway’s capstone course is derived from the MESA organization, advocates for equity and access to high quality STEM education and training for underrepresented students.

“Basically, it’s an organization that supports STEM in high schools. They actually have competitions at Fresno State and in higher levels where students actually have to put engineering to use and create something for a contest,” Burchett said. “There are academic contests in it that are pretty exciting and fun. The kids get a lot out of it.”

The all-new aviation pathway is on the horizon for the fall semester at the home of the tigers, and the newly offered math for aviation will kick off the program. Burchett said students will begin the pathway with this class instead of taking integrated math 2.

“Integrated math 2 has all the quadratics, and that’s usually motion through the air,” Burchett said,” so [math for aviation] lines up pretty well with that.”

In a previous interview with The Sun-Gazette, Rudy Cardona, assistant principal at Woodlake High and retired lieutenant colonel with 25 years of service in the United States Air Force, said the aviation pathway is directly correlated with getting students regionally in-demand jobs.

“This past summer, California was on fire,” Cardona said. “With all the fires all over the place, aviation had a huge impact on fighting those fires, whether it be monitoring the situation or getting into some of those hard areas that were dangerous for humans to get into, a lot of reconnaissance type missions with drones, for example. The actual aircraft carrying fire retardant material to drop on the fires itself. Aviation had a huge play in that.”

Cardona said aviation plays a large role in today’s agricultural industry as well.

“We’re in the heart of ag country here,” Cardona said. “Whether it be monitoring weather patterns, crop production, crop growth, imaging one’s property fields, barometric pressure—there’s so many different applications aside from the traditional crop dusting. Aviation is huge, and the need is going to continue to grow in our area. Right now we have a shortage of people going into that area, so the demand is high, and we need to start contributing into that area. It’s very ripe for the picking, so to speak, and we need our students to be competitive in those areas.”

Basic Integrated Math 1 will also be added to Woodlake High’s special education curriculum for the fall semester.

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