Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Howland Community,

We are excited that our initiatives in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum have continued to grow in Howland Schools as we now move forward into a venture that includes robotics.  It’s the next step in hands-on, minds-on STEM experiences for our kids. Howland students already receive opportunities in STEM early on in their education through curricular and co-curricular initiatives that include “Makerspace” classrooms.  Makerspace rooms allow our elementary students to witness and perform age-appropriate activities.                                  

STEM curriculum continues into high school and includes opportunities for students like Project Lead the Way courses, which are designed to give students an introduction to the basics of coding and computer programming. Students create Android apps, program self-driving vehicle robots, and learn the basics of the Python programming language. This course familiarizes students with problem-solving techniques using the computer and learning Java programming language focussed on object-oriented programming and related mathematics. 

Other aligned courses include Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) and other STEM courses where students are introduced to the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to identify and design solutions to a variety of real problems. They work both individually and in collaborative teams to develop and document design solutions using PLTW Engineering Notebooks and 3D modeling software.  Students work through problems that engage and challenge them in a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. Students develop skills in problem solving, research, and design while learning strategies for design process documentation, collaboration, and presentation. 

Other courses expose students to Arduino hardware and software to give students an introduction to microcontrollers and how they work to create the "internet of things" in today's world.  Students wire the circuits and code the software to complete the tasks involving analog and digital circuits, basics of electricity, as well as sensors, solenoids, and stepper motors. 

Additionally, physics assists students with the understanding of the mechanical knowledge required in the real world and robotics.  Understanding motion, forces, and energy helps students to gain the knowledge needed to take on the tasks that robotics competitions establish each year.   

Students participating in the robotics teams will have the opportunities to work together and also collaborate with other teams from other schools while competing with them.  Students are scored in areas that include reaching out and collaborating with other schools during competitions to assist with robotics failures or challenges, which is very much like real world collaborative problem-solving.  Importantly, the robotics teams must create solutions for local community problems that can then become systemic solutions for others around the globe.      

As with any co-curricular/extra-curricular opportunities for our students, it takes outside partnerships to make the robotics program successful. Our incredible progress over the past few years has been due to the continued support we have received from our parents and community business partners.  If you or your business have an interest in supporting STEM Robotics Teams, you may contact the high school principal, activities office, or district administration office or PAWS (Partnerships Advocating and Working for Students) at to see the many ways you can become involved.  It takes volunteering expertise in programming, technology, mechanical devices, robotics, software and program writing - and any ideas you might have to offer!

Kevin Spicher

Howland Local Schools




Archived Letters from the Superintendent