Middle School Winner
Science & Engineering Teacher
Pikesville Middle School
Chris McChesney is another teacher who has the challenge of teaching not just students of widely varying ability levels but also of widely different socionomic backgrounds. As Chris says, "My engineering classes are elective, but all of my classes are heterogeneously grouped. Some of my students devour Grisham novels, some read at a second grade level. Some are homeless and some are living in homes close to million dollars. Meeting all these needs is challenging, but I have been doing it for 23 years and still love it."
Which goes to show that creating innovative lesson plans that use hands-on science and which incorporate cross disciplinary content is an ideal way to bridge gaps and enhance student engagement.
His 6th grade students work on his "Stack 'em and Track 'em" activity where they are challenged to create and test homemade multicell batteries. Students make each cell from a penny, aluminum foil, salt, and water and utilize a voltage sensor and software to see their results in real time.
Mr. McChesney's 7th grade students follow engineering orthographic and isometric drawings in order to build a “Skimmer" - a cross between a paper airplane and an air hockey puck –some of which can travel 20 meters!
His 8th grade Engineering students are tasked with designing and building the fastest air-powered Dragster. Students utilize parametric modeling skills to create the body design on Autodesk Inventor 3-D modeling software. Students output an orthograph as a pattern for shaping their Dragster body from a pine block using power and hand tools. Dragsters are assembled and then tested at 75psi on a 24’ long track.
Starting this year Mr. McChesney will use the data analysis software and multiple motion detectors to record actual speeds in order to increase validity and lead to deeper analysis.
We commend Chris McChesney for his creative, STEM-based projects and for demonstrating that we can get the best out of students of all levels and from all backgrounds by challenging them with exciting and engaging activities. We're looking forward to talking to him about his lesson plans and his students in person at NSTA 2016