Health and Science School 'leads the way'
Inside a storage area attached to Jeffrey Crapper's biology and health classroom at Beaverton Health and Science School, Mazin Ashfaq waits for his computer software to load.
The software is for the school's motion-sensing cameras, which can track and code human movements, and provide data for projects as diverse as helping athletes recover and creating lifelike video games.
Ashfaq, a senior at Beaverton Health and Science School (also known as HS2), studies the screen as his classmate Jane Hang waves a wand with camera-attracting markers at the end of it. The markers will help the computer identify the space it should be mapping.
Once Hang's job is complete, fellow senior Jennifer Meier jumps in, wearing a motion-capture suit with markers on it. Onscreen, the computer uses the markers to find and map Meier's form.
This informal presentation is happening in a storage area — but later this month, HS2 students and Crapper will show it onstage at the PLTW Summit in Orlando, Fla.
"Onstage, I'll be in the motion-capture suit," Meier said. "I'll be doing box jumps on that thing" — she points a stool — "and I know if you do certain movements in the suit, Mr. Crapper was telling me, it can tell if you're more prone to ACL tears. So it can really help athletes."
PLTW, which stands for Project Lead the Way, is a national non-profit that provides interactive curriculum for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects in K-12 schools. HS2 has offered PLTW programs since 2008, and has since received official certification from the organization. The school now offers three different PLTW tracks: biomedical, engineering and computer science.
From Oct. 22 through Oct. 25, PLTW will hold its annual summit, where leaders in STEM education will meet to share ideas and present their findings. Crapper will take part in several presentations, and his students will help operate the motion-sensor cameras in one of them.
"They're going to demonstrate all the things we can do with these cameras," said Ashfaq. "With these cameras, you can show how an injury happens, and if someone gets tackled, what happens to their body, things like that."
Students at HS2 first got to use the cameras and software late last year, meaning this year's group of seniors are the first class to master them. Ashfaq, who will attend Oregon Institute of Technology next year and hopes to be a surgeon one day, said that the quality of education at HS2 has improved as the school incorporates more PLTW curriculum and state-of-the-art technology into its classrooms.
"The PLTW exposes you to a lot of different fields," he said. "In a class you'll see, all the students are really involved. The teacher isn't talking nonstop."
His classmate Hang agreed.
"They worked really, really hard to bring this program to light," said Hang, who is in both the biomedical and engineering track, and plans to be a pediatrician. "And through Mr. Crapper, we got all these nice things."
When they aren't busy preparing and presenting, Crapper's students will take advantage of their time at the PLTW summit by networking.
"Once we get to the summit, we want to show everyone what a state-of-the-art program this is, and make things better for those that come after us," Hang said.
They'll also take a little time to enjoy themselves: "I think we were talking about Disney World or Universal Studios," Meier said.