Technical professionals volunteering in the classroom

RST provides a spark that can ignite a desire to pursue technical education by taking motivated students in an after-hours environment and inspiring them to reach higher. Additionally, at the Samueli Acaddemy high school, RST Engineers and Scientists provide science and math teacher assistance in the classroom ‘during class time’. RST expands on methods, technologies, and concepts that are presented in school and amplifies them. The RST program is intended as an additional “class” where a selected group is mentored throughout the school year. RST tracks student performance to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the program.

The extensive 24 week, after-school program is structured on California standards. The backbone of the RST program is the weekly labs requiring students to build, experiment, use math skills to calculate the expected outcome, measure performance and compare results, reinforcing the link between math and science and providing the thrill of “hands-on” engineering. Students are guided through the course with technical professionals as role models. RST students are provided with a wide range of technologies and are active, empowered participants in the learning process and inspired to pursue further challenges in STEM.

The RST program culminates with a two or three week project comprised of “Rocket Theory”, “Rocket Build”, and “Rocket Launch” sessions. “Rocket Theory” covers basic aspects of rocket operation including Center of Pressure, Center of Gravity, F=ma, etc. “Rocket Build”, as its name implies, provides every student the opportunity to build his/her own chemically-powered rocket. On the final day, “Rocket Launch” creates excitement as students launch and recover their rockets.

Engineers bring a unique perspective to the classroom. Students realize that the engineer’s livelihood depends on an intimate understanding of the math/science link, which helps students see these subjects from a new, practical perspective. Again, the intent of RST is not to replace the teacher’s effort, but to amplify key topics and reinforce the student’s understanding of the link between math and science.

RST differs from other related efforts in the following ways:

Direct approach
Engineers design/conduct the program, creating a direct link to STEM.
Students learn from engineers who have designed bridges, rockets, software, medical devices, etc., providing technical role models.
Sustained effort
RST operates for 24 weeks (Oct- Apr) giving students a comprehensive and cumulative program, enhancing building, measuring and calculation skills.
Low student/engineer ratio
RST averages 1 engineer to 5 students for in- depth, up close instruction.
Hands-On labs
RST labs consist of building and/or measuring and comparing actual results to predicted results using Inquiry Based curricula.
STEM School Focus
RST, starting in the 2015 school year, focuses on the students at the Samueli Academy in Santa Ana California; creating an impact upon their future education with an emphasis on college STEM careers.