Nestled in the heart of Bucks County, Archbishop Wood High School (AWHS) boasts over 50 years of award-winning service to youth and the Delaware Valley community. This 32-acre facility started in 1964 as twinned boy and girl Catholic Education centers, joining forces in 1990 to become a recognized center of excellence for both academics and athletics. AWHS has been proud to have educated a great many leading technologists – including doctors, scientists, engineers, and even an astronaut.
Archbishop Wood’s dedicated and hard-working faculty, administrators, students, and families, along with contributions received from its generous benefactors, are what continues to keep the school at the forefront of education. AWHS understands the importance of continually improving its facilities and programs in order to remain an innovative, forward-thinking institution. Most importantly, these improvements are carefully designed and planned to maximize the education, engagement and empowerment of its students, preparing these young leaders not only for today, but also for the technology-rich world of tomorrow.
The STEM Department at Archbishop Wood High School is key to this strategy. The program provides an innovative and comprehensive new educational opportunity for students. STEM is a curriculum that educates students in four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – using an interdisciplinary and applied approach. The unique AWHS STEM program integrates these four disciplines into a cohesive and engaging learning program, based on real-world applications. Project-based learning is one of the keys to this program’s success, where the emphasis is on hands-on learning and applying the skills learned in the core subjects to actual problem-solving situations. Students participate in open-dialog classes where ideas and creativity are both encouraged and respected. Wood’s STEM program provides a unique opportunity for students to develop critical skills in engineering ethics, peer evaluation, professional behavior and 21st-century communication skills.
Enrollment in the AWHS STEM program has quadrupled in just the first two years of this novel and challenging program’s existence. For two years in a row (2017 & 2018), teams of Wood’s STEM Engineering students have been placed second in the statewide Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo & Conference “Student Inventor” competition, using just the projects from their normal classwork. In 2018, the AWHS STEM program was recognized by the FIRST Robotics organization with a special “Judges Award” for outstanding leadership in STEM Education. Additionally, in the past four years, the number of female students in the AWHS STEM program has grown by 500%, reflecting Wood’s strong commitment to increased diversity and inclusiveness, while matching the similar workforce movement for greater gender diversity. More and more women are becoming leading innovators in new technologies, and Archbishop Wood is thrilled to be educating and preparing strong, independent and confident young women to meet this demand.
Student projects in engineering and design have included new products for aiding injured and handicapped individuals, while architecture students have designed homes and have worked in the community to create a local bus shelter. Future goals for Wood’s STEM program include further increasing minority and female involvement, as well as expansion of the program to include even more technology education opportunities.