Plymouth Whitemarsh partners with Virginia Tech to pilot engineering course

Colonial School District  |  Posted on

PWHS Science Teacher Jim Muscarella (left) works through a demonstration lesson with Carlton Sims, a teacher at Oxon Hill High School in Maryland.

In June, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) Science Teacher Jim Muscarella attended the American Society of Engineering Education conference in Tampa to present on the PWHS engineering curriculum. However, Mr. Muscarella had a higher goal in mind and left Florida as a key member of a pilot program to establish national standardized high school courses in engineering through an initiative called E4USA (Engineering For Us All).

“It was consistent with the goals that we wanted to accomplish here: bring engineering literacy to kids but also prepare them for collegiate experiences later,” said Mr. Muscarella.

As a new course in place that Mr. Muscarella was going to flesh out over the summer already, Pre-AP Engineering evolved as the class that would incorporate the curriculum established through the E4USA program. Where historically the engineering classes at PWHS targeted engineering design, the E4USA curriculum also highlights career exploration.

“Today’s lesson was to pick a non-engineering job that you’re curious about and relate it to engineering. One of the students is also a dancer, so we talked about the technology in dance floors, looked up a patent of a ballet shoe and talked about its design,” said Mr. Muscarella.

Through the E4USA program, PWHS has been teamed with Virginia Tech, who provides some resources for the class — as well as three college credits for each PWHS student who completes the course. Other partners in the program include Arizona State, Morgan State, University of Maryland, Vanderbilt, NASA Goddard, Project Lead the Way, and the College Board. The initiative is also funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Mr. Muscarella traveled to Maryland for training this summer and is one of eight high school teachers applying the E4USA pilot curriculum for 2019-2020.