PA Cyber Delivers STEM Learning to Students
About 11,000 students are currently enrolled at PA Cyber because they chose a unique but comprehensive online education. PA Cyber students enjoy learning when, how, and where they choose. The school engages students in grades K-12 with a diverse curriculum and plenty of extracurricular activities. PA Cyber Polytechnic is yet another of the online school’s many unique educational offerings.
PA Cyber Polytechnic provides STEM enrichment opportunities with a focus on engineering. Students can learn to solve everyday problems through the lens of an engineer. They have opportunities for hands-on and project-based learning where participating students can create, collaborate, and be community oriented. The school partners with organizations, such as Protohaven Makerspace and The STEAM Studio, to provide students with in-person and virtual workshops. Some of the projects that students have created include catapults, spin art machines, bike racks, and mini food pantries. Many student-built projects are donated to support local Pennsylvania communities.
“PA Cyber Polytechnic has offered my sons opportunities to meet students from across the state, develop real-world skills, and create something unique,” says Jenn Binus, a PA Cyber parent. “These programs promote caring about the community, which is critical.”
Though PA Cyber Polytechnic is not new, it just keeps getting better. With the start of the 2021–2022 school year, PA Cyber introduced its Polytechnic Mobile Lab, bringing hands-on STEM experiences to more students statewide. The full-sized van comes equipped with 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, a ShopBot, laptops, and more tools for students to take their ideas from conception to fabrication. A trained instructor unloads the lab’s equipment and quickly sets it up where it’s needed—at a classroom, gymnasium, cafeteria, or even outside. Students will be able to create simple items as well as design and manufacture complex components of larger engineering projects. Programming is tailored to all age groups, ranging from elementary through high school. A second mobile lab will hit the streets in 2022.
“The PA Cyber Polytechnic Mobile Lab is an incredible resource that enables equitable access to STEM learning experiences. Students now have a digital fabrication laboratory to play, create, learn, and invent! The mobile lab gives students in all grade levels the opportunity to experience the STEM movement,” says Eric Woelfel, PA Cyber’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer.
Another keystone of PA Cyber Polytechnic is an eight-day virtual summer camp for high school students at which experts from more than a dozen universities and colleges explain the multitude of engineering career paths. The school partners with Carnegie Mellon University and Pennsylvania State University, to name a few.
“At the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, maker thinking is in part a core aspect of the curriculum. The school aims to inspire future engineers, scientists, and technologists because as we know, the learning never stops,” says Brian Hayden, PA Cyber’s Chief Executive Officer.
PA Cyber’s Family Link program and Regional Offices host many polytechnic-themed enrichment activities for students and their families, both in person and virtually. Some examples include The NASA Moon and Mars Program, Physics Fun with Rockets, Tech Girlz Python Programming, and STEAM Day at St. Francis University, plus many other enriching events throughout the year.
Students at PA Cyber enjoy flexible schedules, enabling them to cultivate skills beyond the constraints of a traditional school day. They can work, train, or volunteer during the day, giving them an edge in future academic and professional opportunities. As a public school, PA Cyber does not charge families for tuition. Every student receives a laptop, printer, and all the necessary textbooks and support materials to enrich the educational process.
To learn more, visit www.pacyber.org/polytechnic.