Magnet students will be required to take Principles of Engineering (POE), starting this semester with the class of 2012, in order to fulfill recently modified Technology Education (Tech Ed) requirements. According to Magnet coordinator Peter Ostrander, the new course offering is part of a series of related changes to the Magnet program curriculum.
POE is a new class at Blair and is offered exclusively to the Magnet students to earn their Tech Ed credit, said Ostrander. POE will replace the Research and Experimentation 2 (R&E 2) and Research Design courses previously used to fulfill the Tech Ed requirement for Magnet students, said Ostrander. POE A is being offered in the spring of this year for the current sophomore Magnet class of 2012, while POE B will be offered in the fall of their junior year. The course is split over two years to most closely follow the sequence that R&E 2 and Research Design previously followed, said John Kaluta, a Magnet Tech Ed teacher. R&E 2 was offered as a single semester course during the fall of a student's sophomore year and Research Design was offered in the fall of a student's junior year, according Kaluta. Research Design will now be offered as a highly suggested elective during junior year, said Ostrander.
The introduction of POE will also change the scheduling of Magnet Biology. According to Ostrander, the class will still be offered in sophomore year but as a full-year, single period class instead of a single-semester, double period class.
Due to a 2007 change in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) graduation requirements, MCPS reduced the number of Tech Ed classes that receive credit from 15 to three: Foundations of Technology, Introduction to Engineering Design and POE. The former two are both available at Blair for students outside of the Magnet program, according to Ostrander. The new requirements affect the class of 2012 and all the following classes. Although Ostrander and the Magnet teachers have been working to incorporate POE into the Magnet since the 2008-2009 school year, the new course sequence first took effect this semester as the class of 2012 began the first POE A class.
Kaluta said that the introduction of POE should not affect students' schedules as the sequence of other classes remains the same. POE is a course in the Project Lead Way Program, a national pre-engineering program developed by engineering firms and colleges. Ostrander said that the Magnet program chose POE to replace R&E in an attempt to select a course as challenging as R&E from the three Tech Ed classes. "The course was selected as it is an Honors level course and is the closest match to the R&E courses previously offered," said Ostrander.
POE is similar to R&E2 and even has some components that are identical, said Kaluta. POE will cover content from the earlier R&E course as well as engineering topics from the current Magnet course Research Design, according to Ostrander. Similarities include a lesson in which the students use a computer program to control data acquisition and interpretation in devices and a project called "Machine Tool" in which students control a robot-like device using a computer code, he said.
To ensure that POE is as rigorous as R&E 2, Kaluta and the Magnet team have adapted the class to the program. Kaluta said that the expectations will be higher and the course work harder in a POE class at Blair than at other schools across the nation. Without an engineering component, Research Design as an elective will focus on preparing Magnet students for the Senior Research Project course, he said.
The Magnet held ninth and tenth grade parent meetings on Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, respectively, to discuss these changes, said Ostrander. "As a program, we are always open to input from parents and students regarding the course sequence in the program," said Ostrander.
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