Heritage Christian Academy

STEM Program

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

We live in a technologically advanced world with an ever-growing demand for highly skilled professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). At the same time, there is increasing concern among education, business and government leaders that we are not building a workforce prepared to meet the challenges of the future. In addition, STEM training supports the competencies required of a 21st Century education: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. As a part of our educational calling to equip students to be servant leaders in their world, HCA is committed to providing a quality STEM-based educational program for our students.

PLTW Distinguished School Badge_FB
Heritage Christian Academy is pleased to be recognized as a PLTW Gateway Distinguished School for the 2019–2020 academic year.

Scope and Growth

Heritage Christian Academy is pleased to offer a robust STEM program from the third through twelfth grades thanks in part to our partnership with Project Lead the Way. The third–fifth grade program is called Launch, and our middle school program is called Gateway. Involvement in our STEM program continues to growth with expanding curricular and co-curricular offerings.

STEM Interest Is Growing

Over the last two years, enrollment in STEM courses has grown dramatically, especially with the addition of PLTW to the elementary curriculum.
Represents the number of students enrolled in STEM courses during the given academic year.

Upper School Coursework

Introduction to STEM Topics

This one-semester course is designed to provide a practical, hands-on, project-based introduction to STEM related topics. The course is a prerequisite for any of the other STEM-designated courses. Topics include: coding languages (Python, Java), robotics, 3D design and printing, and project building using Raspberry Pi computers. The objective of this course is to help students determine their level of interest in pursuing further STEM courses including the PLTW electives listed below.

STEM Electives

HCA is partnering with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to offer STEM electives. PLTW courses currently offered include Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and Computer Science Principles. Learn more below.

Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) is a high school level foundation course in the PLTW Engineering Program. In IED, students are introduced to the engineering profession and a common approach to the solution of engineering problems. Utilizing the activity-project-problem-based (APB) teaching/learning method, students will progress from completing structured activities to solving open-ended projects and problems that require them to develop planning, documentation, communication and other professional skills.

Through both individual and collaborative team activities, projects and problems, students will learn common engineering design and development protocols such as project management and peer review. Students will develop skill in technical representation and documentation of design solutions according to accepted technical standards, and they will use current 3D design and modeling software to represent and communicate solutions. The course also teaches the development of computational methods commonly used in engineering problem solving, including statistical analysis and mathematical modeling. Ethical issues related to professional practice and product development are also presented.

Through problems that engage and challenge, students explore 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.

Computer Science Principles (CSP) is a PLTW course to implement the College Board’s new AP CS Principles framework. Students work in teams to develop computational thinking and solve problems. The course does not aim to teach mastery of a single programming language but aims instead to develop computational thinking, to generate excitement about the field of computing, and to introduce computational tools that foster creativity. The course also aims to build students’ awareness of the tremendous demand for computer specialists and for professionals in all fields who have computational skills.

Each unit focuses on one or more computationally intensive career paths. The course also aims to engage students to consider issues raised by the present and future societal impact of computing. Students practice problem solving with structured activities and progress to open-ended projects and problems that require them to develop planning, documentation, communication, and other professional skills. Problems aim for ground-level entry with no ceiling so that all students can successfully engage each problem. Students with greater motivation, ability, or background knowledge will be challenged to work further.

STEM Diploma

Besides the STEM courses and co-curricular opportunities, HCA offers a STEM Diploma for students who wish to concentrate in this area of study in preparation for their future vocation.

Elements of the STEM Diploma

  • Four units of math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and at least one course for which Algebra 2 is a prerequisite)
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Introduction to STEM Topics
  • Plus a minimum of two (2) additional STEM designated courses.
  • Participation in extracurricular learning opportunities such as bridge building competition, FIRST Robotics, FIRST Technology Challenge (FTC), Scholars’ Bowl, National Science Bowl, Science Olympiad, etc.
  • Complete a senior portfolio highlighting STEM activities

Students who complete said coursework along with two units of foreign language will also meet the curriculum requirements to be recognized as Regents Scholars by the Kansas Board of Regents.


Heritage Christian Academy makes strategic and careful use of technology to enhance learning and equip students for vocation and citizenship in the world they inhabit today as well as the world they will inherit tomorrow.

See how we use technology to enhance learning
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