Sensing the Future With STEM Education
Writer Michael Vyskocil
Photographer Lucia De Giovanni
Could you one day generate electricity inside your home or business simply by walking across your floors? At Pequea Valley High School (PVHS), this level of out-of-the-box thinking brought forth a student-created project of piezoelectric sensors under floor tiles, capable of generating a voltage when pressure is applied to the tiles.
Students Quin Cooke, Colby Steen (both pictured at left), Tyler Doratt, Kendall Hertzler, and Forrest Boas—all PVHS graduates—demonstrated their innovative project at the first Governor’s STEM Competition held at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology last year. The competition, which featured teams of students from 20 high schools across Pennsylvania, was created to get students to think about ways to improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians.
Encouraged by PHVS STEM and technology education instructors Rob Dorshimer and Tim Hess, the students researched, experimented, and prototyped to create their entry.
Speaking via FaceTime from Norwich University Military College, Doratt credits PVHS’s investment in STEM education for connecting him with his fellow students who created their piezoelectric sensor model. Cooke and Steen say that the experience helped them consider how ideas like piezoelectric sensors can be applied to real-life problem solving.
At PVHS, Dorshimer explains, all ninth-grade students take a STEM course that uses hands-on, project-based learning to connect with science, technology, engineering, and math concepts. The school’s STEM lab features a 3D printer and other learning technologies to round out the educational experience.
However, Amy Koberstein, assistant principal, says that the challenge for student learning here lies in what happens when students go home. “Many of our students don’t have the ability to get Internet access at their homes,” she says.
Koberstein notes that the school addressed the issue by extending its wireless network beyond the school’s walls so that parents and students can pull into the parking lot after school or on weekends to access the Internet and complete school assignments.
Both Cooke and Steen acknowledge that gigabit Internet speeds would make it possible to access information faster. With a STEM competition honor already to its name, imagine what future PVHS students could create with access to gigabit Internet.
Pequea Valley High School
4033 E. Newport Rd.
Kinzers, PA 17535