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Growing up, Thys deHoop watched F-15 fighter jets fly over his home in Klamath Falls, and he knew he wanted to be a fighter pilot.

But it wasn’t until his sophomore year at Henley High School that he was able to take an engineering class. Once he did, he was hooked. And his career options expanded from flying jets to aerospace and mechanical engineering.

“I used math and problem solving for the first time in real life,” says deHoop, who is now a senior. “It wasn’t just numbers on a board in math class, but numbers that actually served a purpose.”

DeHoop is one of six Henley High School students who are in Anaheim, Calif., this weekend to talk to educators across the nation about their experiences with the school’s engineering and aerospace programs.

Only Henley

Henley High School is the only school in Oregon and one of five schools in the Western region of the U.S. chosen by Project Lead the Way to present at the three-day conference. Project Lead the Way provides the curriculum for the district’s engineering programs.

The Henley students credited the school’s engineering and aerospace classes with providing them focus and opportunities to create wind turbines, radio controlled air planes wings from balsa wood, high flying rockets, and fish habitats to help the local redband trout population.

The students – seniors Thys deHoop, Sean Wolf, and Dylan Huynh and juniors Michael Molineaux Alyssa Michaelis and Grace Parker – created a 10-minute presentation, including a video with interviews of Kingley Field fighter pilots and personnel. The Oregon Air National Guard at Kingsley Field is one of the Henley program’s key partners, and aerospace students are able to tour the air base and see the concepts they learn in the classroom being used in the field. Oregon Institute of Technology also is a large supporter and partner of the Henley program.

On Wednesday, the students presented to Henley High School teachers. On Feb. 21, they will share their presentation with the school board.

Inspiration

The purpose of their presentation is to inspire other educators to use Project Lead the Way’s science and engineering curriculum in their classrooms, making authentic experiences for their students. The students will give their presentation Sunday morning to an estimated audience of 1,000 educators at the PLTW regional conference. They depart Thursday with their engineering teacher Dr. Kristi Lebkowsky for Anaheim and will spent time touring the area and attending workshops at the Project Lead the Way conference before giving their presentation.

The district added Project Lead the Way curriculum in 2016-17 school year, and the program has had many accomplishments in its short history. This curriculum also extends to Henley Middle School where Lebkowsky also teaches engineering and robotics courses.

At Henley High School, she offers two classes of introduction to engineering, one aerospace engineering class and a class on principles of engineering. Next year, she plans to add a senior capstone course. Of the 650 students at the school, 110 are involved in engineering classes and 50 belong to the school’s engineering club. In addition, student-led youth outreach programs provide hands-on engineering curriculum to more than 300 elementary and middle school students.

Concepts to practice

In their presentation, the students discuss learning how to use CAD and 3D printing to create complex designs, competing in national engineering competitions, and seeing real-life applications of concepts they learn in class.

Grace Parker was among engineering students who partnered with Henley’s business class and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to research, design and build fish habitats for redband trout. The habitats were installed in Agency Creek, an idea inspired by Henley business teacher Luke Ovgard’s love of the outdoors. “We used problem-solving to ensure the habitats were stabilized, stayed submerged and didn’t harm the wildlife around them,” Parker said. “It’s really encouraging to know that something so important started in my classroom with the design process and was taken out to a real-life situation in my community.”

Other plans include partnering with the school’s agriculture program to create new ways to use drone technology to help farmers. Students also hope to design and build a tiny home and donate it to organizations that help homeless veterans.

Districtwide, Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum also is being used at Henley Middle School, Brixner Junior School and Bonanza Junior-Senior High School. Henley High School is the only school in the Klamath Basin with an aerospace engineering program, and one of two in the state of Oregon.