D211 Post: Applied Tech Teachers Create STEM Summer Project Site

            During most summers, younger area students would have the ability to attend STEM workshops hosted by District 211 Applied Technology teachers.  Due to the current COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the usual camps were not able to be held.  This did not stop the District from finding a way to work with, and inspire younger students. In late-June, Applied Technology teachers from across the District spear-headed the design of the website https://phardy4.wixsite.com/techactivities.

           Fremd High School Applied Technology Chair Paul Hardy said the website was created as a resource for parents and students.  The site provides the parents with a trusted internet site that they can lead their children to for some safe and fun activities that their children can do while they are social distancing.  The site provides the students with a way to showcase their efforts to the instructors that created the different activities.

         The website contains plans aimed at students aged 12-15 years old and is free to access, though Hardy stated that parents may have to purchase materials for certain projects.  Upon completion of projects, students and parents can fill out a survey which will allow instructors keep in contact with the parents so they can be informed of other opportunities that might arise such as upcoming events that their children can participate in at the high schools.

D211 Post: Conant H.S. Teachers Make PPE for Medical Professionals

            James B. Conant High School Science Teacher Dave Torpe and Applied Technology Department Chair Eric LeBlanc have been occupying their time recently doing what they can to support medical professionals combating the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Due to social distancing, Torpe and LeBlanc have been working on different personal protective equipment (PPE) designs from their homes.

            LeBlanc said he was inspired to begin work on this after seeing Conant High School Principal Julie Nowak and others packing meals for students across the District.

            “You could tell from the photos I saw that she was putting her heart and soul into D211 families and it really made me want to do more,” he said.  “I learned about a movement through another staff member at Conant, Brigit Cain, about an open source design from a group of doctors in Montana that made and shared online a design for a surgical mask.”

Conant Applied Tech. Chair Eric LeBlanc displays a 3-D printed mask.

            LeBlanc reached out to engineers in the discussion group on the website www.makethemasks.com.  After getting permission from school administration, LeBlanc retrieved a couple of the school’s 3-D printers and used the pattern from the engineers to begin making masks.

            He added that while the masks have not yet been approved by the FDA, there is strong evidence about the effectiveness of this design. 

            While LeBlanc has been working on masks, Torpe has been working on creating face shields.  He said he was able to find a pattern at http://3dverkstan.se and current information on the clinical review can be found at http://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013306.  Torpe said he came up with the idea to make the masks after reading about the need in the online 3-D community.

            “There were some posts in the 3-D community that had some people designing solutions for medical professionals,” he said.   “While I was following this, I was also hearing about shortages of PPE, and how our applied tech department donated some of our unused PPE.”

Conant Science Teacher David Torpe demonstrates a face shield he built.

            Following a discussion with Conant High School Science Department Chair Sharon McCoy, Torpe began printing PPE equipment that was in demand.  He then retrieved some 3-D printers from the school and began using them to print the components needed to assemble the face shields. 

            Torpe added that each shield takes approximately one hour to print and five minutes to assemble.  He added that after looking into the design he decided to use, he found it was one of the more popular designs.

            Torpe and LeBlanc said they are engaging students in concept designs and instruction of assembly as part of the students’ e-learning experience.  The two teachers also are making arrangements to donate the completed projects to local hospitals.

D211 Post: District 211 Hosts GCAMP Breakfast

            Representatives from District 211, as well as Harper College, GCAMP (the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership), and area manufacturing companies gathered at Schaumburg High School for the GCAMP Breakfast Nov. 8.  During the meeting, the group discussed internships, apprenticeships, and the future of student involvement in manufacturing. 

            Following the breakfast, District 211 Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Superintendent-Elect Dr. Lisa Small, delivered a presentation on the career cluster and pathway development program used by the District to help students prepare for life out of high school.  At the conclusion of her presentation, a panel of manufacturing leaders and organization leaders who discussed the importance and benefit of student internships and apprenticeships.

            At the conclusion of the panel discussion, attendees were divided into groups and were taken on a tour of the various applied technology classrooms at SHS.  Each classroom was demonstrated by student representatives from each District 211 school. 

            One of the tour guides was Schaumburg High School junior Wendy Torres.  She said that the event allowed businesses to learn from each other, but also gave the students present a chance to see what opportunities were available in the manufacturing field.

            “This event is important because it gives us the opportunity to see what companies they could join as well as what internships and apprenticeships are available,” she said. 

            For Paul Rimington, treasurer for GCAMP, the event is an important introduction tool for the manufacturers as well.

           “We need to introduce the manufacturers to how good these kids are, and how prepared they are for going into manufacturing,” he said.

           GCAMP’s mission is to work towards creating a sustainable manufacturing workforce along the I-90 in the Chicago Northwest suburbs.

D211 Post: Swedish Educator and Students Visit PHS Applied Tech

Palatine High School Applied Technology Department Chair Mark Hibner discusses manufacturing machines used in his classes.

            For three days last week Karl Mihlberg, head manufacturing teacher at Wilhelm Haglund Gymnasium (school) in Gimo, Sweden, and two students, Niklas Lundmark and Fabian Mattsson toured the Applied Technology Department at Palatine High School. The tour was designed to compare manufacturing classes in both schools.

            Applied Technology Department Chair Mark Hibner said the tour was coordinated in part by Sandvik Coromant, which has a presence in both countries.

            “We have representatives from Sandvik Coromant who serve on our manufacturing advisory board,” Hibner said. “They are also working in Sweden to create a strong workforce in manufacturing and engineering.”

            Mihlberg said the tour was arranged following the principal from Wilhelm Haglund visiting Illinois last year.

            “Our principal was very impressed with Mark and the manufacturing class at Palatine,” Mihlberg said. “She wanted me to come and spend more than one day to learn how things work here and so we could learn from each other.”

            He added that one difference that stood out was class size.

            “We only have about 90 students,” he said. “The amount of students and amount of machinery is much different.”

            Lundmark noticed a few technical differences as well.

Fabian Mattsson, a third year manufacturing student at Wilhelm Haglund Gymnasium in Sweden, practices setting up a machine in the Palatine High School Applied Technology classroom.

            “While [Palatine] uses inches, we are using the metric system,” he said. “Some of the coding here is also a little different.”

            Differences aside, everyone noticed many similarities in their respective programs.

            “The overall programing language, the machines, and how we handle them is all the same,” Mihlberg said. “The struggle Mark and I have with the amount of time we have compared to the amount we want to teach is the same. There’s never enough time.”

            Hibner has found the exchange enjoyable and informative for him as well.

            “They are great people and fun to talk with,” he said. “We have talked about challenges we face in the manufacturing content. We find similarities not only in our challenges, but in our solutions to educating students in the world of manufacturing.”

Karl Mihlberg, head manufacturing teacher at Wilhelm Haglund Gymnasium, discusses classroom procedures with Mark Hibner, PHS Applied Technology Department Chair, during a visit to Palatine.

D211 Post: William Fremd High School Named Among Distinguished High Schools by Project Lead The Way


Paul Hardy, Applied Technology Department Chair for William Fremd High School, discusses implementing wiring and design during an engineering class.

            William Fremd High School has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Distinguished School for providing broad access to transformative learning opportunities for students through PLTW Engineering. It is one of just 133 high schools across the U.S. to receive this honor. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that serves millions of K-12 students and teachers in over 10,500 schools across the U.S.

            “I am very happy we received this,” said Applied Technology Department Chair Paul Hardy.  “One thing we pride ourselves on is the high percentage of returning students.”

           The PLTW Distinguished School recognition honors schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. To be eligible for the designation, Fremd had to meet the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three PLTW courses;
  • Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses;
  • Have 70 percent of students or more earn a Proficient or higher on PLTW End-of-Course Assessments, or 10 percent of students earn the AP + PLTW Student Achievement.

Through PLTW programs, students develop STEM knowledge as well as in-demand, transportable skills that they will use both in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they take.

Fremd High School freshman Nathan Hochhalter sends test signals from his iPad to a radio controlled car built as part of his engineering course project.

PLTW EngineeringTM empowers high school students to step into the role of an engineer and adopt a problem-solving mindset. Students engage in collaborative, real-life activities like working with a client to design a home, programming electronic devices or robotic arms, and exploring algae as a biofuel source.

           “It is a great honor to recognize William Fremd High School for their commitment to students,” said Vince Bertram, President and CEO of PLTW. “They are a model for what school should look like, and they should be very proud of ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to be career ready and successful on any career path they choose.”

           Township High School District 211 is part of a community of K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate and philanthropic partners across the country united around a passion for providing students with inspiring, engaging, and empowering learning opportunities. For more information about PLTW’s recognition program, visit pltw.org/our-programs/program-recognition.

           Hardy said the next step to continuing the program’s success, is to continue informing both parents and students of the availability of various engineering courses.

           “We have a lot of parents and students who are surprised to hear we have these programs,” Hardy said.  “Once the students complete their first class, a lot of them find they really enjoy it.”

A group of Fremd High School engineering students test drive radio controlled cars they designed. Students in the course had to design and power functional vehicles.

D211 Post: Conant HS Teacher Named Technology Education Association of Illinois’ New Teacher of the Year

Shayna Adelman, an applied technology teacher at James B. Conant High School, was named New Teacher of the Year by the Technology Education Association of Illinois.  She received her award during the association’s annual conference in Bloomington, Ill., on October 27.

            Adelman received the award, which recognizes outstanding teachers in their first five years, based on her work in applied sciences, as well as her work with students in programs such as the robotics club, and Girls in Engineering Math and Science (GEMS).

            Adelman said she was surprised when she was informed she had won.

            “I felt honored by this,” she said.  “I didn’t know someone nominated me.”

            Adelman is currently pursuing a master’s degree in STEM Education and Leadership through Illinois State University.  She said one of her passions is the promotion of gender equality in science and engineering fields, a topic about which she has delivered multiple presentations.

            “Partially because of the way our textbooks have been written, children mostly hear about important discoveries and innovations by men,” she said.  “They rarely hear these stories about women, even though they are numerous.”

            Though new to teaching, Adelman is experienced in the field of engineering.  Prior to teaching at Conant High School, she studied mechanical engineering and has worked in computer science.

            Adelman encourages individuals to never avoid doing things for fear of failing.

            “Everyone who ever did something great failed hundreds of times first,” she said.  “The history books care about the successes, not how many times it took to get there.”

Palatine High School Teacher Mark Hibner is Golden Apple Award Finalist


Mark Hibner

A District 211 teacher is a finalist for a prestigious Golden Apple Award, which recognizes teachers’ contributions to building a better-educated and strong society through the art of excellent teaching.

Mark Hibner, Applied Technology teacher at Palatine High School, was nominated for a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is one of 30 finalists for the award out of 400 initial nominations. He was recognized at the Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence on April 2.

Only 10 Golden Apple Fellows will be named by the organization’s committee, which is composed of volunteers ranging from principals, administrators, members of higher education faculties, and other Golden Apple Fellows.


Mark Hibner (left) and Palatine High School Principal Gary Steiger (right) attend the Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence on April 2

“Really, this honor is not about me,” Hibner said. “It represents the passion of being an educator. We are in education to inspire young people to be the best they can, not only in the specific area we teach, but also in life. It really also represents the great people you are surrounded by – educators and leadership.”

There are several opportunities and rewards available to an individual if named a Golden Apple Fellow. Golden Apple Fellows are given a platform to create or contribute responses to the needs of children in Illinois. The award includes a paid, spring-quarter sabbatical at Northwestern University where fellows can take as many courses as they wish in any subject of their choice. Additionally, they will receive a $5,000 cash award and an induction into the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.

Hibner is the District 211 Applied Technology chair as well as Palatine High School Applied Technology department chair. He is instrumental in developing and implementing applied technology curriculum, including District 211’s Manufacturing Program.


Mark Hibner and his family pose with Palatine High School Principal Gary Steiger (second from right) at the Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence on April 2.

Hibner credits the Golden Apple recognition to the talented educators he is surrounded by each day. He believes that without the collaboration and support of his colleagues and administration, he would not be the teacher he is today.

“There is no way I could have gotten to this point if it wasn’t for the support from the District 211 administration that helped me grow and become a better educator,” Hibner said. “Also, the support from all the other teachers in the school, the applied technology teachers at Palatine High School and in the District because we all really push each other to be better and to offer a quality service to our students.”