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12/16/08 Lincoln High School students apply math skills to building catapults


Sierra College STEM grant introduces education path to highly-paid, technical careers

ROCKLIN –Students in teacher Ellen Byron’s Honors Algebra II and Pre-Calculus classes will measure, cut and manipulate metal on industrial power tools to manufacture parts and build catapults from 10:45AM to 3PM on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at Lincoln High School located at 790 J St. in Lincoln, CA. Learn more about the project.

A former Industrial Engineer, Byron is excited about offering this project. “Building the catapult will give students a glimpse into ‘What can we do with the math we learn?’” said Byron. “In careers like engineering, it is so exciting to think of a concept and then turn it into reality. Many of these students are so focused on the academics that they don’t realize all the great career choices that math and science can provide. Through this project, I hope some sparks will fly in their minds and open their imaginations to many technical career choices.”

According to Sandra Scott, Director of Workforce Development for Sierra College, the hands-on Tech-Explorer catapult project engages students and makes academic studies more relevant. “Project-based learning allows students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real skills used in the workplace,” said Scott. “This project introduces students to local, highly paid in-demand careers such as technicians, product designers and engineers.”

Sierra College won a Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s office to bring short-term, turn-key applied academic projects that meet State of California secondary education standards into middle and high school classes.

STEM careers are in demand reports Nicholas Terrell for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in STEM Occupations. The report shows that “STEM workers earned about 70 percent more than the national average in 2005, accord¬ing to BLS” and the average wage for STEM occupations in 2005 was $64,560 compared to $37,870 for all occupations. (pg. 29 BLS Occupational Outlook Quarterly Spring 2007)

The BLS recommends: “Prepa¬ration should begin in high school, with coursework and extracurricular activities focusing on honing problem-solving skills. … Students interested in a STEM career should get started in high school by taking as much math and science as they can. Even those who struggle in these subjects during school can succeed on the job; with persever-ance, many people who may have had difficulty with early math or science classes can later thrive in a STEM career.” (pg. 30 BLS)

The mission of the Workforce Development Division is to deliver flexible learning opportunities that produce change. For more information, go to or contact Sandra Scott, Sierra College Workforce Development at (916) 781-6244.

Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and Economic and Workforce Development
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