MERIDIAN — Teacher Caleb Wofford turns on the music and walks around his classroom. His students are not writing reports or taking down notes. Instead, they are practicing to be mechanical, electrical and computer engineers.
Students take on these roles while working on projects. This is an average day in Wofford’s robotics class.
“I want my students to be curious while learning,” said the Victory Middle School technology teacher. “I don’t expect them to remember everything I teach them, but I want my students to love to learn.”
Wofford got inspired by the show “Lost in Space” on Netflix to change his lesson plans to focus on curiosity.
“I needed to spice things up,” he said. “It can be the hardest thing in the world to get middle school students engaged.”
Wofford is using real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to engage and introduce students to job opportunities they can pursue after high school.
“Kids can be creative in my class,” he said. “Every project is completely different.”
Wofford’s curriculum includes material from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs. Students develop STEM knowledge through real-world applied learning. He makes a narrative and objective for the students, and then explains why the subject is important to learn.
For example, eighth grader Kevin Pulara is building a radio tower with a partner. The goal is for the tower to rotate using a battery, wires and a switch. Wofford doesn’t show an example of what the radio tower should look like because he wants students to think creatively.
“Before starting the project, I had an idea of how I wanted the tower to look,” Kevin said. “I’m learning you can really improve as you go.”
Wofford said students are problem solving, which sparks curiosity in creating and building. This isn’t just taking place in his robotics classes, but also in design and modeling classes and intro to coding.
“Caleb builds positive relationships with students while holding kids accountable to a high standard,” said Will Schumaker, the principal at Victory Middle School. “He pushes all career and technical teachers to change with the technology trends that are relevant to our 21st century learners.”