Supporting STEM Education: Raul Santana
Position: Director of Technology
District/School: Upland Unified School District (UUSD), Upland High School (UHS), California
Number of Students in District/School: UUSD serves more than 12,000 students in 14 schools, which includes 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools
Products: HP Workstations
Upland Unified School District (UUSD) faced two of the same challenges that most public school districts are facing nationwide—we had a lack of funding to pursue programs of excellence, and the need to improve student achievement in math and science. UUSD’s ultimate goal was to find a way to provide educational technology to support rigorous programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
In an effort to improve students’ math scores and skills in a cost effective way by leveraging outside funding, UUSD laid out plans to participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a national program that provides rigorous and innovative science, technology, engineering and math education for middle and high schools. In order to meet the needs of the courses of PLTW, the district’s IT team created two 21st Century Classrooms at UHS, which are equipped with HP Z Workstations, digital projectors, an electronic white board and more.
The community has been incredibly supportive of PLTW and the implementation of HP technology. In fact, in 2008, the community passed a construction bond that has enabled the district to remodel many classrooms and incorporate leading edge educational technologies to create the 21st Century Classrooms needed to support PLTW.
Teachers believe that PLTW is helping to increase student success: “It’s not our goal to make engineers out of every kid in the class,” says Doug Hutchings, teacher, Upland High School, “But it’s very likely that students who participate in Project Lead the Way will have a better chance of being admitted to college and doing well once they get there.”
The program and school district are receiving support from local colleges and universities as well. California Polytechnic Institute at Pomona and the University of California at Riverside actually guarantee admission to students who complete the entire sequence of PLTW courses.
The district’s first PLTW course, Introduction to Engineering Design, is a methods course involving product design using Autodesk Inventor software. UUSD runs the software on HP Workstations. We have found that because Autodesk applications are thoroughly tested and qualified on HP Workstations, that they are the perfect fit for the classrooms where the PLTW courses are taught. Together, HP, Autodesk and PLTW have offered a wide-designed platform for science, technology, engineering and math education that has helped integrate the program pretty seamlessly.
How We Use It:
Using HP Workstations, students tackle four design projects in the introductory PLTW course. The first is a puzzle, which students design and engineer for manufacturing. Subsequent projects include a toy train, a full-size boat, and a fourth project serves a real-life community need and changes each year. Last year, the class is designed and built a mobile scoreboard for the local Little League.
Now in its second year of involvement with PLTW, UUSD has added a second PLTW course, Principles of Engineering. Students use HP Workstations to tackle more rigorous engineering challenges and are exposed to a wider range of engineering software packages.
All told, the high school has roughly 135 students taking PLTW courses today and that number should continue to grow as new courses are added.
UUSD has a solid reputation for preparing its students academically, and several schools in the district have been cited as California Distinguished Schools.