Students embrace new challenges through engineering class


George Saba and Owen van Es

Here at Laguna Beach High School, an engineering class is offered to anyone who has taken biology, chemistry and physics. In the class, students use critical thinking and learn how to use science to solve problems and how to build and take apart everyday items.

“The engineering curriculum is designed to teach them engineering habits of mind. A lot of students come in thinking it’s just going to be tinkering, but it’s really using science to solve problems,” said engineering teacher Jennifer Merritt.

Merritt, who comes from a long line of engineers (father, grandfather, and great-grandfather), teaches the engineering class, along with Physics and AP Physics. In school, Merritt studied physics, but she has always wanted to study math and science.

“The math is algebra-based, so I wouldn’t say it is more than looking at linear equations and direct relationships. But it is really the problem solving that we’re building on from chemistry and physics,” said Merritt.

Usually, students take chemistry and then while in physics, they can take engineering concurrently. Sometimes, students choose to take chemistry, physics and then engineering their senior year instead. Along with this, there is not too much math knowledge needed in order to take the class; students just need to have taken Algebra 1. Most of the prior knowledge needed to take the class is from chemistry and physics.

“I became interested in engineering because of how fun AP Physics was last year,” said 12th-grader Liam McCue.  He plans on pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering in college.

Senior Chloe Flanagan has enjoyed many projects throughout the year but especially enjoys the one that she is currently working on.

“We are creating a music box… we get to code our own music from pretty much whatever song we want, and then we put it into a program called block,” said Flanagan. “In the second semester we are going to take the Arduino and put on motion sensors so when we approach it, it starts playing the song that we coded.”