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Course Syllabus

Freshman Engineering

Mr. Renau


Introduction:  This course is your first science course at Innovation Academy High School.  As such, we will work to introduce and clarify the role of the different sciences in our lives, especially in light of the ever-increasing importance of technology.  We will learn the basics of many fields of science and engineering, and begin to use the knowledge gained through scientific endeavors to solve problems and improve our daily existence, just as scientists and engineers have been doing for hundreds of years.  The focus in this course will not be on memorizing and reporting many specific facts, theories and phenomena of science, but rather to understand and utilize the few principles that have driven the human quest for knowledge. 

Expectations:  Students should expect to both work hard and have a lot of fun this year in engineering.  I have high standards for both myself and my students.  This means that I must work hard to make this course interesting, fun and engaging.  It also means that I expect each of my students to put in considerable effort, both inside and outside of class.  There will be frequent homework assignments and quizzes as well as a comprehensive test at the end of some units.  That being said, most of our time in class will be spent working on projects and your own creations.  This requires a high level of maturity and respect in the classroom, as I have no intention of wasting my time or yours on disciplinary issues.  On the first day of class, I will make the behavioral expectations clear, and I don’t expect to have to revisit this for the rest of the school year.  You are high school students and young adults and I will treat you as such. 

Group Work: For some projects and assignments, work may be done in groups.  However, group work is a privilege and not a right.  If you demonstrate consistent maturity and strong work habits, you will generally be permitted to work in a group, and will often have the option of choosing that group.  If you struggle to get your work done or maintain appropriate behavior in the classroom, then group work will not be an option for you.  For the first project in this class, students will work individually.  For all future projects, your performance on the first project and your work in class will inform my decision as to whether you may be allowed to work in a group or if you are better off working individually. 

Weekly workload/grading: Each week in class, in addition to the work we complete together, you will be responsible for one or two short readings, comprehension/practice assignments and a project, test or quiz.   The majority of our class time will be spent working on projects.  Although much of the work for projects will be done in class, you will be required to work on projects on your own time as well.  If you use your time in class efficiently, you should rarely need to do more than three hours of work each week outside of school to do well in this class.   

Assessment Overview/Strands: Final grades for this course will be a combination of the four following strands:

1.             Experimentation: (20%) Science is built upon a foundation of experimentation.  Students will be required to design and carry out laboratories.  Students will be assessed on their ability to effectively measure, record and draw conclusions about the data that they collect. Students will also be required to keep laboratory notebooks.  

2.             Modeling: (30%) Models are important tools that can help students understand complex physical phenomena.  Students will be assessed on their ability to use theoretical, physical and computer models in problem solving.  Students will also be assessed on their ability to create and utilize effective mental models of the material learned in class. 

3.              Enduring Understanding: (30%) Often the most innovative advances in science and technology depend on linking together ideas from more than one field.  Scientists must have deep knowledge and an understanding of how multiple ideas are related.  Enduring understanding will assess students’ ability to work with and expand upon the ideas presented in class.

4.             Work Habits: (20%) Effective work habits are critical in order to perform quality professional work.  Student work shall be completed on time in an organized manner.  Large projects will also have intermediate checks where students will be evaluated on how effectively they use their time. 

Extra Help: Some material in this class may be particularly challenging for you.  You may also need support to plan out and execute your projects.  I will therefore be available for extra help for multiple hours throughout the week.   If at any time you have a strand grade below a “C” or I see you struggling with any concepts, you are expected to come for extra help.  Extra help will be offered both during school (at lunch time) and after school, as well as by appointment if necessary.  If you do all your work and regularly attend extra help, you will have no difficulty doing very well in this class.

Hours: Tuesday 3-4, Tuesday lunchtime, by appointment

Late policy: See school late policy


Extensions: Extensions may be granted for all work in and out of class with an approved extension request form at least 24 hours before the assignment is due.   I recognize that at times things will come up, whether its heavy workloads in other classes or things outside of school.  When these events occur, I am happy to grant an extension of the due date, however, you must request an extension at least 24 hours before the due date.  This can apply to tests, quizzes, projects and nightly assignments.

 Revisions: All work that was handed in on time may be revised.  If you revise your work, you may earn back up to 50% of any missed points (i.e., if you earned 80% on an assignment, you may earn back up to half of the 20 points you lost, meaning you can get up to  90% with revision).  Revisions will not be discussed during class time, only during office hours at lunch or after school.  Revisions will be accepted until the end of the unit.

Presentation Bonus- Students may earn up to a 10% bonus on projects by presenting their work, either in class (as time allows), after school or at exhibition night or other community events. 

Supplies- Students should come prepared to class with pens, pencils, a calculator and a notebook.  Many assignments and projects will require students using computers and the Internet.  If you do not have Internet access at home or at a local library, you may use some of the computers here at school to complete these assignments, either during enrichment time or after school.  Students will also be expected to use their gmail accounts and other google services regularly.

Submitting Work- Students are encouraged to submit all work electronically.  There are 2 ways to submit work electronically. 1st, students may submit assignments in an e-mail or as an attachment to an e-mail. When submitting work via e-mail, students should include the name of the assignment as well as the date of the assignment in the subject line. The 2nd way students may submit assignments is by using Google Docs. Throughout the school year, students will use and gain familiarity with Google Docs.   When submitting assignments via Google Docs, students must include the date and the name of the assignment as the name of the document. Only assignments submitted in this matter will be graded.  There will be a scanner in the classroom that can be used to upload drawings or hand written work to google docs, but this must be done before the class period in which the assignment is due.  


Honors- Students may earn honors credit in engineering class one of two ways.  First, students may complete extension work.  Students who wish to earn honors this way should sign up with Mr. Renau. They will be given additional work on homework assignments, projects and tests.  For students who are particularly driven and self-directed, there is a second option, completing a yearlong independent project.  In order to do so, students will need to research their problem, submit a proposal, find an advisor to support them along the way, document their weekly progress, create a website and submit a final, revised project before Exhibition Night in May.  Please see Mr. Renau for more details. 

 Odds n ends- I generally do not permit eating, iPods and other mp3 players or cell phone use in my classroom.  If you have a special plan or particular need around these limits, please see me individually.  Students may use their own computers for note taking and other academic purposes, but this privilege will be revoked in any cases of misuse.

 Semester 1 Unit Outline: 

Unit 1: Introduction

-Tools and Safety

-Careers in Engineering

 Unit 2: Technology, the scientific method and the engineering design process

-Exploring how technology has shaped history

-Exploring problems with scientific research and the scientific method

-Solving problems with the engineering design process

Unit 3: Measurement and Conversion

-Units, prefixes and the metric system

-Unit conversion

-Area and volume

-Percent error

Unit 4: Structure and Mechanics

-Newton’s laws

-Different loads and forces

Unit 5: Scale and Projection

-Perspective, isometric and oblique technical drawings

-Orthographic projections

-Ratio, proportion and scale


Semester 2 Unit Outline:

Unit 6- Design

-Principles of design

-Computer modeling

Unit 7: Fluid Systems

-Open and closed systems

-Hydraulics and Pneumatics

-Irrigation systems  

Unit 8: Electricity and circuits

-Ohm’s Law

-Components of a circuit

-Resistance, conductors and insulators

-Series and parallel


Unit 9: Powering the future


-Convection, conduction and radiation

-Engines, motors and generators

-Renewable energy

Unit 10: Communication technology

-Characteristics of waves

-The electromagnetic spectrum

-Fiber optics

-Components of communication systems

-The internet

Unit 11: Manufacturing systems

-Tools and manufacturing

-Production processes

-Properties of materials

-Robotics and automation