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Continued: Hands-on learning ready for takeoff at Johnson High in St. Paul

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 23, 2014 - 9:45 PM

Jeff Opichka, the Fab Lab’s instructor/manager, said students who learn of the science, math and engineering that go into creating things have a greater appreciation when they see the end product.

The five students who discussed some of their recent projects expressed admiration for each other’s work, too. After Silver spoke of her design of a small metal ramp that could lift a 500-gram mass a specific distance — no more, no less — Kianna Thomas, a fellow freshman who, like all of the students, is an East Sider, said: “I would have never thought of something like that.”

Max Riley, 14, a freshman, created a small elevator-like structure utilizing gear ratios and torque.

Chue Yee Vang, 17, a senior, and Pader Thao, 16, a sophomore, have embarked on a Physics of Aerospace Engineering project that calls for development of a drone that scours farm fields for corn-boring worms.

Did either, by chance, have plans to follow the upcoming Winter Olympics?

“I really don’t watch TV,” Thao said.

Said Vang, “I spend too much time on school work.”


Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036


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  • Mike Pohl, who designed this surround-view simulator, worked with student Beckie Moua as she flew a Cirrus aircraft over the Grand Canyon on Wednesday.

  • A student’s robot. “High school education has to move in this direction,” principal Micheal Thompson said.

  • Johnson High students in an aerospace engineering lab worked on a design question, part of a project to devise an unmanned flight vehicle.

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