With the growing need for some level of technical proficiency in the employment market—and for even more expertise in top-level jobs—Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy, now ending its fifth year as a magnate 6-12 school in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, is providing a new generation of students with a unique opportunity to gain that expertise.
Though middle school students have essentially the same core curriculum as in other PPS schools, the delivery method is integrated across disciplines and very hands-on.
For a recent assignment, 10th grade engineering students were told to design and build a Roman catapult. One might think the apparatus built from Plexiglas, cut using the lab’s 3D printer, that allowed for multiple launch angles would have worked the best. No—it came in second to crude looking machine made from pine blocks.
Aitan Haviv, who built a ballista (a kind of large crossbow), came in third. Asked if anyone built a trebuchet (the largest style of catapult), he said no, “trebuchets are too easy.”