The Scope of STEM Education is Escalating in the Antelope Valley
Building upon the steady, incremental successes of the last decade, the momentum of STEM education in the Antelope Valley has expanded rapidly over the last year. Now, the effects are being felt more strongly not only regionally, but also nationally and internationally. Within the Antelope Valley Union High School District, students from the Palmdale High School Solar Falcons, with the mentorship of local industry partners and the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, as well as sponsorships from regional businesses and individuals, successfully built and raced their solar car at the Texas Motor Speedway in July of 2015 to a 7th place finish in their first year, also winning the coveted Michael Foree Award for best use of technology. The Knight High School Digital Design and Engineering Academy competed for the second year in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) Challenge in Queensland, Australia, in September of 2015, again taking third place in the high school competition. The Air Force Research Lab and NASA Armstrong are collaborating with a group to bring a local “drone” competition to the greater AV region in June of 2016 to involve other teams in this initiative.
Edwards AFB (EAFB) continues its commitment to support STEM education in the local community. EAFB has been supporting the Helendale School District (HSD). Collaborating with EAFB, HSD created STEM electives and robotics program tailored for K-6th grade elementary students. For the 2016-2017 school year HSD is adding a dedicated STEM classroom. EAFB has been inspiring young student minds through career fairs, STEM presentations, and volunteer involvement. In coordination with Academy of Careers and Exploration (ACE) high school EAFB inspired students during the 2015 and 2016 career fair at HSD. Students interacted with the keynote speaker, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists, flight physiologist, pilots, and an F-22 flight simulator.
Other notable accomplishments in the AVUHSD include the SOAR High School InvenTEAM members participating in the White House Science Fair for their ëris breathalyzer bracelet, over 20 students competing in career-technical student organization national competitions, and California School Boards Association Golden Bell Award 2015-16 recognition for both the Palmdale High School Health Careers Academy and Lancaster High School Eagle Robotics Team 299. There were numerous successes for AVUHSD robotics teams at regional, national and international competitions.
Academic year 2015-16 saw the debut of Knight Prep Academy in the AVUHSD, which allows students to utilize state-of-the-art technology and makerspaces; 2016-17 will also bring the opening of a new STEAM school in the Lancaster School District, the Fulton and Alsbury Academy of Arts and Engineering, which will also implement one-to-one student technology.
In other districts and schools within the region, Tehachapi High School Robotics Team was featured in the nationwide “Think It Up” telecast on September 11, Matt Anderson from Joe Walker Middle School was named the California Project Lead the Way Teacher of the Year, as well as Rosamond High School’s CTE program receiving CSBA’s Golden Bell Award in 2014-15. The Palmdale Aerospace Academy Team Gryffingear won as part of the world championship coalition in FIRST Robotics which hosted over 18,000 student competitors in St. Louis, MO in April of 2015.
Aneek Dagama, a teacher at Discovery School in the Lancaster School District, has been selected as a Northrop Grumman Teacher Fellow; she will participate in the upcoming National Science Teachers Association summer conference in Tennessee, a five-day workshop in Maryland, and a two-week externship at the Northrop Palmdale facility.
Antelope Valley College has also experienced unprecedented success in its STEM programs through efforts undertaken under a federally-funded project designed to increase participation in STEM degrees and careers, increasing from 120 engineering majors in 2011 to 445 in 2015, with over 1800 declared STEM majors overall. Five new STEM Associate of Science degrees have been developed, including: Physics; Earth Science; Biology; Mathematics; and Chemistry. AVC is also one of only 15 community colleges in California to be selected to pilot a baccalaureate degree program, which is focusing on Airframe Manufacturing Technology. Over $1 million has been invested to improve existing STEM lab facilities, and a re-design is planned of an existing facility to develop a new STEM center at AVC to house modern engineering labs and undergraduate research facilities, with an expected completion date of Fall 2016. AVC students worked with NASA scientists during the summer of 2015 on the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars (PRANDL-M) project. The AVC-sponsored 4th Annual STEMPosium in November of 2015 also attracted over 200 participants in academia, industry, and local government.
California State University Long Beach Antelope Valley Engineering Program received the coveted ABET accreditation for its electrical and mechanical engineering baccalaureate programs in July of 2015. This prestigious recognition is known worldwide, and provides standardization with other accredited engineering programs. Enrollment in the coming academic year is expected to grow as a result. Graduates of the program continue to enjoy great success not only with co-op internships, but also with fellowship appointments and employment opportunities.
In terms of total student participation in STEM education and activities within the greater Antelope Valley, the numbers increased over 10,000 in the last year alone to over 30,000. These figures include more students participating in daily coursework in PLTW Launch, Gateway and Engineering, and computer science among others in 10 districts within the region, as well as in events such as STEM clubs, robotics at all levels, Intermediate Space Challenge, Science Olympiad, wind turbine challenge, STEM Conference for Girls, Hour of Code, work-based learning opportunities such as job shadowing and internships at the high school level, projects, after-school and summer activities and STEM “camps” such as Lancaster School District Summer of Innovation, PLTW Summer Gateway Academy through AVUHSD, AVC Summer Bridge, Mojave Test Pilot School, and AAUW TechTrek.
Regardless of the grade level or location of students in the greater Antelope Valley region, a wide variety of STEM education and activities are available for their benefit, allowing them to become prepared for college, career, and life in the 21st Century and beyond.
Diane L. Walker,
AVUHSD College & Career Readiness Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org • 661-575-1025
Interim Chair, Antelope Valley East Kern STEM Network Steering Committee