PHS student welds Formula car frame

A Plymouth High School student welds the tube steel frame of this year’s Formula High School car.

CTE: Tech ed applies core skills to real life

Posted February 13, 2017

The 20 technology education courses at Plymouth High School provide students in engineering classes as well as those learning skilled trades with extensive hands-on applications of lessons learned in core classes.

Most of the classes take place in the LTC-Plymouth Science & Technology Center, which features CNC mills, a plasma cutter, a 3-D printer, a welding training facility, engineering/CAD Labs, and a modern automotive lab. This state-of-the-art facility allows PHS students during the day and LTC students in the evenings to gain experience with all phases of the design process, taking projects from conception to completion.

Career & Technical Education focuses on the exploration of the self in relation to the world of work. Hallmarks of CTE are college and career readiness, academic and technical skills, work-based learning, and leadership skills. The biggest CTE disciplines are business education, technology education, culinary arts, and agriculture. We will explore each of these in February, which is CTE Month.


Core connections

Technology education draws on skills learned in all core classes, especially math, science and English.

“Students use the following math skills in tech ed: problem solving, basic arithmetic and measuring, computation and formula solving, angles and trigonometry, and shapes and geometry,” said PHS math teacher Jack Daniels.

As part of their master's degrees' action research project, Mr. Daniels along with math teacher Darren Munson and automotive technology instructor Beau Biller researched the need for better collaboration between technology and math education. As a result, a pair of semester-long College Technical Math classes through Lakeshore Technical College were developed.

“The new tech ed math classes will cover algebra and geometry topics with an emphasis on how these concepts are used specifically in CTE fields,” Mr. Daniels said. “CTE math applications will play a large role in the coursework.”

The classes will emphasize solving technical problems by using mathematical skills. Topics for the first class will include linear equations, graphing, percent, proportions, measurement systems, computational geometry, and right triangle trigonometry. Topics for the second class will include polynomial expressions, rational equations, systems of equations, and oblique triangle trigonometry.

Both classes was designed for technical college-bound students and those interested in applied technical extensions of algebra and geometry. The classes follow the course outcomes required by Lakeshore Technical College, and students can earn advanced standing or possibly three credits from LTC for successfully completing each class.

PHS also offers an Applied Communications course for seniors interested in auto technology. This half-credit course teaches communications skills centering around four major projects that largely focus on clearly conveying specialized automobile knowledge to the average person. Learning takes place as part of the two periods of the auto tech class.

In addition, PHS recently added Theatre Design and Technology, a semester-long course taught by drama teacher Janet DeJean Newton and local theater professionals. Thanks to involvement in the PHS spring musical, participants gain hands-on experience in the technical areas of lighting, sound, sets, props, makeup, and costume design and construction.


Workplace readiness

All technology education classes provide invaluable preparation for careers in engineering, manufacturing and transportation. In addition to the classes above, students also can position themselves for such careers by pursing the following opportunities at PHS:

  • Project Lead the Way engineering classes: The first in the area to offer this nationally recognized curriculum that relies on hands-on, project and problem-based courses, PHS offers six PLTW courses.
  • Metal welding: Due to the popularity of its semester-long Metal Welding & Plasma Cutting introductory class, PHS is adding an Advanced Metal Welding and Fabrication class to allow students to enhance their welding skills, including practice certification tests, print reading, layout work and fixturing. Learning is done in the professional welding training facility at PHS, which features state-of-the-art booths and a plasma cutter.
  • Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC): Numerous courses provide exposure to CNC operations and programming. Students can fabricate objects designed with CAD software in the 3-D printer and the CNC mills and lathe.
  • Youth Apprenticeship: This year-long opportunity is available to juniors and seniors. Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship Program integrates school-based learning and work-based learning to provide youth with academic and occupational skills leading to both a high school diploma and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency. This program combines academic and technical instruction with mentored on-the-job learning that makes a real world connection for the students. This program is open to juniors and seniors, and students may apply in February. Students must maintain good grades in school, work for at least 450 hours in a year, achieve required work skills, and meet high school graduation requirements in order to complete the program.
  • PHS Technology Education and Engineering Club: Participants work on projects in all aspects of the design process and in some cases compete against area schools. Activities include Formula High School, High Mileage Vehicle, Project G.R.I.L.L., Beat the Heat, Ice Fishing, and Manufacturing Job Co-Op as well as community project opportunities. This year’s major project is a Formula High School car.


Awards and accolades

The PHS technology education program has garnered a number of awards in recent years:

  • NorthEast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance Tech Ed Teacher of the Year 2015: Greg Gritt
  • Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Award 2015: Plymouth School District
  • NorthEast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance Education Innovation Award 2014: Plymouth High School
  • Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Award 2013: PHS teachers Greg Gritt and Jake Sherman


Learn more:

Explore the Technology Education curriculum offered at Plymouth High School.