Klinge helping students gain knowledge in STEM subjects

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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To say Gavin Klinge enjoys his job as the STEM teacher at Andalusia High School would be an understatement as the class has taken off with plenty of positive feedback this school year.

Klinge is the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teacher for junior and senior high. He holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Auburn University, a master’s in Science Education from the University of West Alabama, and is a nationally certified STEM educator with a certification from the National Institute of STEM Education. Klinge, who previously taught science at Pleasant Home School, also has certification in VEX EXP, V5 CTE, and VEX IQ.

“Mr. Klinge has a passion for the integration of modern technology into education. Our students have responded well to his teaching approach, using innovation, discovery, and critical thinking to solve real-world problems,” AHS Principal Ray Wilson said.

Klinge’s biggest goal this year is to establish a repeatable curriculum to be used and improved in the future years. He would like to eventually have students 3D model and have a concrete understanding of different careers in STEM beyond the pay scale or general education.

Students have described the class as fun, challenging, exciting, and entertaining.

“Our class is Legos for big kids,” Aidan West said.

Seniors Cape Merrell and J.M. Jackson have plans to pursue degrees in Engineering after high school.

“I have never wanted to come to school before this year, but I am excited for STEM class every day. I have learned so many things about computers, robots, and architecture,” Merrell said. “This class is very fun because it involves hands-on learning and no book work. It also helps improve my thinking skills,” Jackson added.

In the class, students will build 4-wheeled robots, code their functions, plan personal budgets, 3D model, translate measurements, and build historic replicas such as the Eiffel Tower. They will complete standard STEM challenges like the egg drop challenge, build autonomous robots, manipulate robotic arms, create circuits, build digital portfolios, and much more. STEM must be a class that is centered around student experimentation, collaboration, exploration, failures, successes, and perseverance.

“My goal is to create an environment that may seem like ‘chaos in chains’ but will enable students to express themselves and take ownership of their learning in ways that traditional academics may not,” Klinge said.

Senior Parker Adams said the STEM class was his favorite subject.

“I absolutely love my STEM class. My teacher is incredibly engaging and knowledgeable, making every lesson enjoyable and inspiring. The best part is getting hands-on experience with robots. I can’t get enough of it,” Adams said. “Creativity is the secret sauce to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),” Collin Rawls added.

The class has been well received by Andalusia High School students.

“This STEM class offers a fun, creative, and challenging experience for all students. There are many things to do in the class to improve coordination, problem-solving, and efficiency in the real world,” Chase Riddle said.

Students are currently working on building a robotic arm to manipulate objects onto a conveyor belt. Their most recent activity was attaching a battery holder to the platform. “This activity makes us use our brains differently from how we normally do,” Pierce Majors stated.

Students are working on the Sphero Competition in junior high classes. The competition is a multi-week process of educating students specifically to understand the basics of coding in regards to the importance of variables, loops, comparators, boolean operators, and conditional statements. At the culmination of the unit, they will be tasked with navigating a maze, ramps, rails, and other conditional obstacles to prove their ability to translate their digital code to the physical world.

Students also work on the hour of code, an activity implemented by many major EdTech companies and institutions designed to have students with little prior knowledge spend time with code. The activities can vary from the creation of 8-bit games to creating robot behaviors with their code.

Building robots has been a huge hit with the students.

“This class is the best class in the school because we get to build and play with robots,” Edward Bentley said. “I live, laugh, love STEM and look forward to it all day long,” Everly Mack added.

Klinge hopes each student will take something as a result of participating in his class.

“Whether they leave with a tangible creation of their own making or a small snippet of knowledge that impacts their critical choices about jobs, passions, and more, I think they are learning that STEM classes are beneficial to everyone,” he said.

For more information about the Andalusia High School STEM class, call 334-222-7569.