Highland Park ISD celebrated the grand opening for the new Moody Advanced Professional Studies (MAPS) Center Oct. 28.
The MAPS Center in Highland Park High School offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to combine traditional coursework with college-level classes, including business design and leadership, and engineering design. The classes feature expert guest speakers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, and business. The MAPS Center has about 10 3D printers, six plug and play monitors for students to work collaboratively on projects, up-to-date software, a laser etcher and cutter, and more. Students began using the center this fall.
The business design and leadership class incorporates entrepreneurship, AP Microeconomics, and Economics Advanced Studies, and the Engineering Design class incorporates the practices and procedures used in engineering and in making aesthetic decisions.
“You’d have to be crazy to put engineering and design in the same class at the same time unless you wanted to do something remarkable,” Moody Innovation Institute Executive Director Dr. Geoffrey Orsak said. “We’re mixing two classes at the same time so (students) can see how these two ideas intersect together.”
MAPS Director Michael Warren said they developed curriculum and built the space based on student interest and preparing students for the workforce.
“It takes a lot of support and buy-in from more than the school district,” Warren said. “It leans on the support of the community, it leans on the support of professionals.”
MAPS Business Design and Leadership teacher Jerry Howland said the new curriculum and facility allows him to take a different approach to teaching his students.
“We try to bring a lot of guest speakers in from the business world,” Howland said. “I feel I’m a better teacher.”
Lauren Hickey, a student, said she enjoys the speakers and experience the MAPS Center offers.
“It provides a different learning experience than any other class,” Hickey said. “It’s an interactive experience.”
Adelaide Aiken said she uses programs like the 3D modeling program SketchUp, MATLAB, Adobe Photoshop, and InDesign in her Engineering Design class.
The center is also home to the EarthX globe that can be used to project lessons about a wide range of topics from climate to bird migration until around February.
“Our hope is (students) can use (the globe) in their lessons,” STEAM Coach Ericca Vandagriff said.
Original funding for the MAPS program came in the form of a $5.8 million STEAM grant from the Moody Foundation.