South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Oakville High School students make their case before board for engineering class

EDD is capstone for PLTW

An extracurricular class in the Mehlville School District that looked like it might be cut next year due to staffing shortages is back on thanks in part to students who spoke out in favor of the class.

The engineering design and development class was originally not going to be offered next school year because of staffing shortages, but the course will now be offered after students from Oakville High School made their case before the Board of Education for the class.

Four OHS students spoke during public comment at the Board of Education meeting June 10 to plead their case for the engineering design and development class that at the time had been cut from the schedule next school year.

“All of these students have found a passion for engineering through the … class and we’re all very excited to further our education in the EDD class,” said Nathan Fetter. “It’s an important class to all of us engineering students as we are able to design our project and we look forward to being able to use and further our skills in this class.” 

The EDD class is the capstone engineering course offered as part of Project Lead The Way, which gives students in middle school and high school the opportunity to take science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, elective courses. Project Lead The Way, or PLTW, is a national organization that develops STEM curriculum for elementary and secondary schools. 

“This is a senior level class and this is our only chance to take the class. EDD is a course eligible for college credit and is the capstone PLTW class. It will help us gain many real world engineering skills and it will help us better apply the concepts that we’ve learned,” said Olivia Rausch. “Many of us are considering careers in engineering and the class will help us further understand the process. We will work to develop team coordination. This is a skill that would be difficult to learn in other engineering courses such as the MyPath program.” 

 In addition to PLTW, the district also offers MyPath courses for high school students. In MyPath, students are able to develop their own curriculum in a particular interest area and are tasked with seeking out mentors to help them develop their courses. MyPath is high individualized and usually done by one student. 

Madeline Conaway told the board that she has taken two PLTW courses during her time at Oakville and that the EDD class would have been her third. 

“While that might not seem like the most impressive amount, these classes have helped me decide what I want to do with my future and how to achieve it. These class have taught me so much about engineering and how to handle myself in a work place environment and I wouldn’t wish for a better experience,” said Conaway. “However, this is an experience that could be cut short if I am not allowed to take the EDD class. … The school suggested to use the MyPath program to teach the class. However, this puts my partner and I at a disadvantage.” 

According to the students, nine students total had signed up for the course before they were informed that it would not be offered next school year. An additional three students were also interested in possibly taking the class. 

Since there are few engineering teachers in the district, there is not enough space in the schedule to offer the course, said Madeleine Aguado. 

“Supporting the capstone class is equally as important as supporting the introductory courses. Mehlville School District has worked hard to develop its STEM and PLTW programs … and allowing this program to take will prove that the … district is supportive it’s students interested in engineering,” Aguado said. “Though there may be few of us, supporting the EDD class will help us students be confident in our futures and capabilities.” 

After the students spoke at the board meeting, Board President Kevin Schartner told The Call that district administration was working to get the class back on.

“It’s great, especially with academics, when students come and talk about the things they care about and like to see. … It made a lot of sense to keep that (the EDD course) for continuity,” said Schartner. “These are some of our really bright kids too, why would we say no to them?”

The class will now be offered at OHS this coming school year and will be taught by industrial arts instructor Jim Kreyling. Mehlville High School students will also be able to take the course at OHS.

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