Pennsylvania STEM high school tours ARL, students connect with researchers
February 21, 2014
A group of more than 30 high school juniors and seniors from an all-STEM high school in Downington, Penn., toured the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Jan. 29, to see first-hand how Army scientists and engineers approach some of the Army's most formidable technology challenges.
The group visit kicked off in the Rodman Laboratories on Aberdeen Proving Ground, with Dr. Nicole Zander's brief overview of ARL's progressive research in neuronal networks and understanding blast-induced mild traumatic brain injury. Dr. Shawn Walsh engaged the students in a hearty discussion on revolutionary material technologies to improve head protection systems for future combat. Both Zanders and Walsh are researchers within the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.
Tour stops included the Combustion Lab, Drives Lab, Structural Integrity and Durability Lab and the Small Engine High Altitude Research Lab within the Vehicle Technology Directorate. They also toured the Mission Impact through Neuro-inspired Design Laboratory, which is an all-inclusive suite designed to encompass in-house neuroscience research, providing a controlled environment with state-of-the-art data collection and analysis tools. Also included were the Environment for Auditory Research facility and Cognitive Assessment, Simulation, and Engineering Laboratory within the Human Research and Engineering Development.
The visitors were from the Downingtown STEM Academy, the Downingtown area school district's newest high school. A magnet school that pulls students from both Downingtown East and West for the school day, opened in Fall of 2011. The school became an International Baccalaureate school in January 2012. As of December 11, 2013, the Downingtown STEM Academy was ranked as the top public high school in the state of Pennsylvania, achieving a School Performance Profile score of 101.4.
Students with a C average or above, with an interest in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are invited to apply to the Academy in the eighth grade. The International Baccalaureate Program is the required curriculum for all 800 students in the school. Built on the premise that effort creates intelligence, the school reinforces the idea that every student is held to the same rigorous standards. The STEM Academy is set to graduate its first class in June, 2014.