Engineering & Technology at SVGS

YEAR 2019-20


SEMESTER 2: We are learning how to make vector art with Adobe Illustrator.  Other than having interesting tools to make one’s drawings interesting, vector art can be enlarged greatly without pixelating when it is printed.  The students have made some very nice pieces with tools that we learned together and they are now learning new tools with the goal being to then teach the rest of the class how to use the tool you learned.

Once we finish this project we will spend some time learning how to make a simple webpage and put the videos they made into the webpage and put their drawn art into their webpages.  With that the year will end with their final project where the students will put all their skills to work in one large project.

SEMESTER 1: During this time the students have been working with, creating with and learning about parts of the Adobe Suite of programs.  They started by creating projects with Audition, which is an audio editing program.  The students have recorded themselves on their phones and then edited that audio using Audition.  The program will allow the user to remove or reduce background noise, remove parts of the audio they do not want and the students can add background music.

Next the students worked with Photoshop.  This is always a favorite of students because of the fun they have with their won photos.  They also learn how to add photos as backgrounds to text.  An example is shown below.

The third program they have worked with is InDesign.  This is a page design program.  The students have created single page About Me project that included an image of themselves, text about their activities and classes and added an audio clip of their name, spoken by themselves.  They also made a Greeting Card that is a one-page document that can be folded up to form a Greeting Card.  It had text and art.  They also created tri-fold document to advertise one of the classes they have taken at SVGS.


SEMESTER 2: Students are working on a new lab called DataLab and it involves writing a class to evaluate cereal.  Many of us eat cereal for breakfast and this gives the students a chance to look more closely at that breakfast.  The lab as provided does not give the students a chance to import all the data from the cereal.csv file, so we chose to do some outside the AP work and learn how to do that.  With this extra skill the students can do a more in-depth analysis of the data provided. Once we are finished with that it will be about time to start getting ready for the AP exam

SEMESTER 1: This class is devoted to learning the Java programming language and preparing students for the AP exam in May.  We started with basic data types and have built up to creating classes that have methods using loops, Boolean expressions and more complex data types.  Some of our work has used ideas from their math classes.  Shown below is code to calculate the square root of a number using Newton’s Method.

Students also wrote code to calculate the sine of an angle using a Taylor Series.  These were to illustrate how a calculator or phone might calculate the value displayed when the student punches buttons.

The students have also worked with String or text data.  This is a topic that routinely shows up on the AP exam.  We are looking at how to find characters or words in a piece of text, how to replace that text or just count how many times a letter shows up on that chunk of text.

We are moving into the topics of Inheritance and Polymorphism.  All big words that they can use to confuse their friends!  These are some of the areas of an Object Oriented Programming language that become important as we try to write more complex programs.

Once we finish with these topics we will move to Arrays and ArrayLists.  With those we will have acquired most of the building blocks for APCS and it will be time to use them to write those programs that are more complex than we have written to this point.


The Network Security class is continuing its participation in online contests.

The Cyber Security class has finished a module on the Linux operating system and command line.  Linux is important because many Internet servers use Linux, and most security and attack tools are written for Linux.  When students know how to use the command line, they can then compile those commands into scripts which automate their tasks.

The class is now beginning a module on networking.  Since networks carry all the traffic between computers, knowledge of networking is necessary to protect computers against attacks.  The class will be using actual hardware (switches and routers) as well as a network simulator called PacketTracer from the Cisco Networking Academy, provided by CyberPatriots.

The class is competing in two Cyber Security contests this semester.  The first is CyberPatriots, which is sponsored by the Air Force Association.  Students are given virtual machine images and required to fix security problems in the virtual machines.  (A virtual machine is entire computer operating system that runs inside of software, VMware Workstation Player in our case.  CyberPatriots competition images use both Linux and Windows.) So far we have participated in the practice and training rounds, and will compete in Round 1 on October 25th.

The class will also be competing in the National Cyber League (NCL).  NCL is a defensive and offensive puzzle-based, capture-the-flag style cybersecurity competition based on based on the CompTIA Security+™ and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)™ performance-based exam objectives and include the following content: Open Source Intelligence, Scanning, Enumeration and Exploitation, Password Cracking, Traffic Analysis, Log Analysis, Wireless Security, Cryptography, and Web Application Security.  See example below.


Engineering I began with rapid prototyping of newspaper towers. The engineering design process was explained and experienced. Students have also identified and imagined solutions for some of the many challenges facing society. The reverse engineering of friction cars and research into famous engineering failures helped to promote hands-on skills as well as an awareness of the limitations of engineering designs.

Engineering design teams were formed based on personality profiles and skills assessments. Teamwork and collaboration are important aspects of engineering. With kinematics and dynamics providing mathematical models, we began our study of moving objects. Civil engineering was introduced through the Traffic Jam project as well as surveying and bridge design. The forces on stationary objects was explored using statics.

Mechanical drawing and Autodesk Inventortm are next on the syllabus. Students will develop their drafting skills and use them to design ABS (plastic) brackets for 3D printing and testing. This introduction to mechanical engineering will include torque and finite element analysis through problems and Autodesk simulations. The first semester will culminate with a unit on energy and machines.


Engineering II students also did some rapid prototyping but their primary focus of was building drones. Students developed mechanical, electronic & programming skills as they assembled DJI F 450 quadcopters. Communication and videography skills were required to produce assembly instructions. Students are currently fine-tuning the RC controls and developing their piloting skills in collaboration with Mr. Nylander.

The historical and scientific background for working with drones was developed through research into the history of flight along with the study of fluids, including buoyancy, drag, lift and thrust. Fluid mechanical concepts were examined through an airfoil design project. Airfoil designs were tested in a simulated wind tunnel using  FoilSim, developed by NASA. The relationship between theoretical and practical designs should help with future projects and drone flights.

Engineering II students are also exploring the impact of the industrial revolution on modern society and how innovative thinking and modern technology may be applied to meeting current societal challenges. Students grasp of these concepts will be applied in their long-term project proposals. The next unit will focus on thermodynamics and energy systems.


SEMESTER 2:  Students began the semester with a tutorial about crime in DC and where the hot spots for crime are located in relation to metro stations, neighborhoods, and businesses.  The cupcake war lab helped students determine how GIS could stop a war with one map and used Arduinos to measure Carbon Dioxide, altitude, temperature, and humidity.  They have also begun working on their research projects for their final exam.  Students are covering a variety of projects with their final research including:  How to tour Chicago in one day, How Virginia could survive if there were no imports or exports, How to save Orangutans with a conservation area, How lead pipes are monitored in Waynesboro, VA, How forests are used as investments in Virginia, and How the Australian fires have affected mammals.  Students are writing a research paper and will present their projects to JMU professors for their final exam the week of April 27th.

SEMSTER 1:  GIS began the year with a unit on maps and the basic workings of ArcPro and ArcGIS Online.  They quickly moved past the simple assignments that showed them how to use the tools of ArcPro to doing mini-projects and on-line tutorials.  Students also learned how to make add data to a map using the collector app and how to make story maps on ArcGIS online.They explored the ocean floor with depth sounding by taking readings from a closed box with a simulated ocean floor.  They were able to take use the readings and the Lat/Long coordinates on the box, put them into a map and make them three dimensional.

Students also researched a potentially explosive situation that occurred in Springfield, Virginia and determined how to make detours for the interstates and escape routes for residents to shelters.

Next, they will be presenting their maps about the Chesapeake Bay to practice for the midterm presentations.


SEMESTER 2: Students are working with Python to create their exam projects that will go on display on April 15th while the Seniors are presenting their Capstone projects.  We are still learning new tricks with Python and have stolen the APCS data lab to analyze breakfast cereals.  For those who go on to take APCS next year they will see how differently the two languages attack the problem. We have been working with Pandas dataFrames this semester and that work continues.  Some of the students will use Pandas in their final project to examine a data set they have either made or one they found that interests them.

SEMESTER 1: This nine week period has been devoted to learning the Python programming language.  Obviously we have not learned all of the language but we are making progress.  Students started by working with basic data types and working up to writing programs that used topics they have worked with in Physics class and math class.  A code example is given below.

The objective is to gain confidence in coding using loops, conditionals and writing methods of their own.  This is leading up to the students creating a large project during the second semester where they will choose a topic to explore in depth.  Right now we are learning to read data in from a file and then analyze the information.  That may be text of numeric data.  The students will have a chance to choose a book, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and see what information we can glean from the text.  We will move to spreadsheet data and learn how to take in that data and both graph and analyze the information.