Providence Christian named a top STEM program in Georgia
Recently, Providence Christian Academy was announced as one of 134 schools across the nation and the only private school in the state of Georgia to be named a Distinguished School by Project Lead the Way.
The inception of the program began five years ago with Randy Cailor suggesting they start teaching students about STEM.
Cailor, whose had two daughters graduated from Providence, had more than 20 years of experience at a structural engineering firm.
He toyed with the idea of teaching a business course or a few engineering classes, but he thought a full course program would be the best option.
“I started researching what would be the best options as I was making the transition from the business world to teaching,” Cailor said. “I found Project Lead the Way and started taking part of the curriculum they were doing and tailoring it to what worked best for us here at Providence.”
Since Providence is a private school and receives no state funding, everything they needed for the STEM program has to come directly from parental and alumni donations.
“Everything you see in this room has been donated one way or another — it’s been amazing,” Cailor said. “Everybody has bought into our vision and made this a program.”
Students who are part of the STEM program take classes as an elective. The way Providence is structured requires students to take a religion class as one of their electives, limiting the amount of free electives students can choose.
Despite that limitation, Cailor says about 30 percent of the school is involved in STEM courses.
A typical pathway in the STEM program begins with STEM I, known as Intro to Engineering Design. During the course, freshmen and sophomore students get exposed to the basic design process that comes with engineering.
STEM II, Principles of Engineering, is the second foundational course for students in tenth and eleventh grade.
“Both these courses provide the basic learning that will set students up for more in depth learning in the upper level courses,” Cailor said. “STEM II gives you a variety of topics like mechanisms, kinematics and statics.”
The program diverges in the third course allowing students to get experience in construction, engineering and architecture or anatomy and the human body systems.
Students who begin the program as freshman are allowed to take a capstone course, which challenges students to take a real world problem and come up with a solution.
Seniors Morgen Feldhan and Robert Fain are in the middle of their capstone project.
Feldhan, who plans to attend Georgia Tech, has been designing a scarf for people with asthma.
“In the winter it’s hard to be in the cold and exercising is especially difficult,” Feldhan said. “There wasn’t any solution out there that seemed appealing to people so I decided to design something that could help.”
The scarf also features a breathing mask embedded into the fabric, allowing the wearer to stay warm while not impeding their breathing.
Fain’s senior project involves helping medical companies track inventory on supplies they send to hospitals.
“A lot of companies aren’t very organized and inventory isn’t kept up well,” Fain said. “I found in my research that anywhere from 4-6 percent of revenue is lost to preventable issues.”
Fain said he created a bar-code tracking system as well as and inventory spread sheet allowing medical suppliers to see the amount of supplies they have for a certain order.
Feldhan said her interest in STEM began in middle school and is something that she is looking to make a career out of.
Fain saw STEM as an opportunity to learn while being able to see tangible results.
“I felt like I was doing something that benefiting me and I could see an end to it,” Fain said.
Both seniors will compete in the school’s STEM exposition on April 24 in front of dozens of judges.
Support and activities like the exposition set Providence apart from other schools, Cailor said.
“People have bought into this program,” He said. “We’ve had support both financially and from the administration and now we’re starting to see the results.”