Port Huron Northern shows off new STEAM lab, renovations - P.J. Wallbank Springs, Inc.
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Port Huron Northern shows off new STEAM lab, renovations

Port Huron Northern junior Austin Meister looked to a piece of grid paper with sketches on it. It depicted the form of a PlayStation 4 game system that Austin, 16, had measured and outlined. Then he started putting the measurements into the computer-aided design program on his laptop, and the gaming console took form in digital space.

Austin started learning computer-aided design this fall. He and his fellow students started out with small, random objects and moved their way up, he said. He said he'd always liked math, and thought he might like to go into engineering.

"I didn't really know what kind of engineer I wanted to be," Austin said.

Now he thinks he'd like to do something related to computer-aided design.


Port Huron Northern junior Austin Meister, 16, talks about using a CAD program to make 3D models of a PlayStation at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the P.J. Wallbank Springs, Inc. Engineering STEAM Lab Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 at Port Huron Northern. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)


PJ Wallbank Springs Inc. President Chris Wallbank speaks Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the P.J. Wallbank Springs, Inc. Engineering STEAM Lab at Port Huron Northern. The company gave the school district $150,000 to split between Port Huron and Port Huron Northern high schools over the next six years, as well as offering mentorship opportunities to students. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)

Meister demonstrated his skills at an open house Wednesday night showing off a new STEAM lab at Port Huron Northern High School, among other renovations. The STEAM labs are intended to support curriculum designed by the non-profit Project Lead the Way, which designs STEAM curriculum with an emphasis on hands-on learning.

The STEAM lab is split between the focuses of engineering and biomedical science. The space is divided into four main rooms for students to use. The engineering and biomedical sides sit in adjacent classrooms, while two lounge-like common areas connect to them on either side.

The idea is that students can break into groups when not participating in structured lessons, and can use the lounge spaces to work. Teachers can assist students who need more help in the main classrooms.

The open house also highlighted a new partnership between the School and P.J. Wallbank Springs. The engineering side of the STEAM lab is called the P.J. Wallbank Springs, Inc. Engineering STEAM Lab.

"I believe in the area, I believe in the administration and I think it's a responsibility as a business in the community to let people know what's out there," said P.J. Wallbank Springs President Chris Wallbank. "No way this existed when we were in high school, at least not in this way."

The partnership includes a $150,000 contribution to the school district to be split between Port Huron High and Port Huron Northern for use in STEAM equipment and curriculum, Superintendent Jamie Cain said. The funds will be paid out over six years.

The partnership also connects students with local STEAM mentors and seeks to prepare them for the kinds of jobs available in local manufacturing. The stated goal is for students to understand the kinds of jobs available in local manufacturing and point them in the direction of employment after school or more education.

"A tour is kind of the tip of the iceberg," Wallbank said.

Cain said the district is open to finding a similar partnership for its biomedical education programs.

The renovations at Port Huron Northern High School also include a new science suite, separate from the STEAM labs. This includes more traditional life studies like biology, physics, anatomy and chemistry. The science suite includes a central storage area, common-area style hallways that can be used for working and interconnected classrooms.

Cain said the difference in the two science-type facilities was to provided dedicated spaces for core curriculum classes and for the project-based learning intended for the STEAM lab.

The renovations come as part of the $105.9 million bond measure passed by voters in August 2016. The bond included funds for school security infrastructure, classroom furniture, facility renovations and more.

Contact education reporter Jeremy Ervin at (810) 989-6276 or jervin@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @ErvinJeremy.

Article from Times Herald Port Huron: https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/2019/01/24/port-huron-northern-shows-off-new-steam-lab-renovations/2658544002/?fbclid=IwAR2JESNn-hwH4IDIOm6WkcLSpn0LzGOmPpCrPsl4HAynv8qaI5-YjWSm5RI