Del Oro High School students may never have considered how products such as phones, sunglasses and cars are designed, produced and sold. After building the tech-explorer catapults, developed by Sierra College through grant funding, freshmen in Del Oro’s tech essentials class discovered new skills and explored careers in design and product development. During the building project, students applied math and measurement skills to produce metal parts of the catapult using hand and power tools. Then, they assembled the catapults and competed against each other to see whose ball went the greatest distance and was the most accurate. Principal Dan Gayaldo said through the partnership with Sierra College, teachers had professional development opportunities, consulted with college faculty and went on externships at manufacturers. In addition, the grant provided classroom equipment similar to what is used in industry and projects like the Tech-Explorer catapult. “The grant provided by Sierra College through the Sierra collaborative has opened up an exciting new world of hands-on experiences to our students," Gayaldo said. The freshmen were enthusiastic about the applied academics catapult project that included using mills, lathes and hydraulic presses, according to Tom Stargaard, Del Oro tech essentials teacher. “For students who have never made something from scratch or used industrial tools, it is a very empowering experience,” Stargaard said. “After completing the catapults, students’ evaluations were very positive.” Sierra College’s goal is to interest high school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers said Carol Pepper-Kittredge, who administers the program for Sierra Colleg. “The applied learning experience exposes students to product development careers,” Pepper-Kittredge said. She said students may discover an interest in manufacturing and want to study various subjects the college offers such as mechatronics, engineering, welding, energy technology and drafting engineering. “Local employers are actively recruiting from these programs,” Pepper-Kittredge said. The program at Del Oro is the result of a National Science Foundation and California Community College Chancellor’s Office grant awarded to Sierra College to create a pipeline of students from middle school to high school to college interested in and prepared to fill the need for skilled technical employees. For information, go to sierraschoolworks.com or contact Pepper-Kittredge, at email@example.com or 660-7517.