Middle and upper school science and math instructor Zachary Moore returns to Laguna and discusses his vision for the STEM program:
Kela: Can you tell me about where you were last year?
Zack: I was teaching physics and engineering at Bishop Diego.
K: Did you enjoy that?
Z: I did; I like Bishop. They have such a diverse spectrum of interest, so it’s sometimes hard to teach the most advanced classes at the most advanced level because there isn’t enough time. The kids were a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the material I taught. They had a great lab space as well.
K: Why did you decide to come back?
Z: I missed teaching eighth grade science. Eighth graders come to class really motivated to learn, and they aren’t so focused on how this is going to help with their college apps. It’s my favorite class that I’ve ever taught in almost 20 years of teaching.
K: And aside from eighth grade science, what other classes are you teaching?
Z: I’m teaching AP Physics C, which is the mechanics piece of physics. I’m teaching engineering classes for the middle and upper schools, and I’m also coordinating the STEM program.
K: What can you tell me about the STEM program?
Z: We already have a great science, math and technology program at Laguna, which has been applied to computer science and engineering.
My job is to refine the vision of STEM and articulate a program that will get us to a point where the kids are doing this work in not only their normal classes but also in out-of-school opportunities that will encourage kids to look at these fields as viable options for themselves. We’re integrating coding and robotics into the lower and middle schools and really creating some high-end opportunities for high-schoolers that will involve them in a broader community of STEM.
K: What classes are you offering this year?
Z: This year we’re just creating the vision. We added three STEM electives. There’s a middle school coding class taught by April Brown, a very accomplished instructor in coding. I’m teaching two engineering classes.
As we expand, we will not only add electives but also incorporate STEM into some current classes that we have, such as fifth and sixth grade computer classes. We’ll also be introducing coding and robotics into seventh grade Pre-Algebra.
K: So some STEM classes can lead into others, so you can apply what you learned previously?
Z: Yeah, next year the goal is to offer the seventh-to-ninth grade coding class, but the idea is that, if we do this right, kids from the fifth and sixth grade programs will be prepared to jump into more advanced coding. From there, we offer an AP computer science class that kids can take as tenth graders. From that AP class, they can branch out into so many fields: entrepreneurship, web development, robotics, or app development. When you do your senior project, it could integrate the skills developed throughout your time here.