Pennridge schools honored for technology education


The school district is incorporating STEM concepts into traditional woodworking and metalworking classes.

Technology education is thriving in the Pennridge School District.

The latest evidence came when the district recently received the Program of Excellence award from the Technology Education and Engineering Association of Pennsylvania, part of the International Technology Education and Engineering Association.

By winning the state award, Pennridge is in the running for the international association’s award, to be announced at its conference in April, Pennridge spokesman Joe Ferry said.

One of the reasons the district was recognized is that it is incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics tools and concepts into traditional woodworking and metalworking classes at the high school without sacrificing hands-on craftsmanship, he said.

“They still have plenty of table saws, planers and routers in the shop but have supplemented them with 3-D printers, plasma cutters, CNC routers, laser engravers and other high-tech tools,” Ferry said.

The result is “stunning creations such as tables, cabinets, and chairs as well as guitars and ukuleles,” Ferry added.

Pennridge Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Kathy Scheid said STEM is being emphasized on all levels in the school district.

“We are providing STEM experiences beginning at our elementary schools and formally at the middle level in grades seven and eight,” she wrote in an email to this news organization.

“The response to the middle school courses has been overwhelmingly positive for both students and teachers,” she continued. “Parents are pleased that their children are excited about learning to be innovators by using their hands and brains. When our students move to the high school, they will further develop their skills through complex and collaborative work. By integrating STEM learning opportunities into courses such as metalworking, we hope to not only develop critical thinkers and problem solvers but also that students will see this as a springboard for their careers.”

Pennridge High School education technology teacher Matt Peitzman said the process of building an electric guitar involves several STEM elements.

“String frequencies involve physics,” he said. “Deciding what finish to put on the wood incorporates chemistry and deciding where to put the frets on the fret board includes a lot of mathematics.”

In advancing its technology programs, Pennridge has also developed a strong connection with Millersville University. All five high school technology teachers and the four in the middle school STEM programs are Millersville graduates, Ferry said.

He said the five high school teachers have “high expectations for their students and willingly provide extra time for students during the day, after school and on weekends to hone their skills.”

Credit: The Intelligencer