St. Thomas Academy

Film highlights STA vehicle team

St. Thomas Academy's Experimental Vehicle Team will be featured in a documentary at 7 p.m. March 22 on Twin Cities Public Television. The 28-minute film, called "Drive, the Engineer," follows the team as it designs, builds and races an electric vehicle.

The team created two lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles — "Alpha" and "Beta" — to race in the battery electric urban concept division of the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon competition last spring. They spent more than 2,800 hours and 8 months building the vehicles. St. Thomas placed second and third.

Team members included Robert D'Agostino, Ian Nichols, Joseph Muske, Grant Grojean, Jack Ryan, Connor Shea, Nicholas Michalik, Matthew Michalski, Branick Weix, Colin Berg, Carter Swedal, Timothy D'Agostino, William Dietz, Brendan Quinlan and Samuel Westlake.

The documentary was produced by Broadcast and Design Group, with support from St. Thomas Academy and Power Systems Research.

To find a channel broadcasting the program, go to: The documentary is available on YouTube at

Burnsville- Eagan-Savage

Fourth-graders explore passions

Students in teacher Jon Abrahamson's class at Vista View Elementary are spending time exploring their passions with "Genius Hour." The concept, which originated with engineers at Google, lets kids choose a topic to investigate for one hour every Thursday. Genius Hour projects have three requirements in Abrahamson's class: they must involve some kind of learning, the project must demonstrate that learning and students should have fun.

Abrahamson introduced the idea last year to encourage kids to explore their own interests.

Students are learning about Guatemala, website creation and surviving in the wild, among other topics. Later this year, they will present their work with reports, digital storybooks or infographics.

West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan

Two magnet schools earn awards

Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School and Garlough Environmental Magnet School were both named Magnet Schools of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America, a professional association representing more than 2,000 magnet schools across the country.

The award is given based on a school's student achievement, curriculum and teaching, community engagement, professional development and commitment to diversity. Schools must apply to be considered. This award is the top honor given by the association.

Garlough was named a Magnet School of Excellence in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 while Pilot Knob received the award in 2013. Pilot Knob also received a Magnet Award of Distinction, the association's second-highest award, in 2014.

Erin Adler