Room 118 at Reservoir High School in Fulton is home to a city under glass — Plexiglas, that is.
The plastic model of a downtown is complete with a city hall, fire station, mixed-use facilities and courthouse. For the more than 200 students from seven classes who designed the city, it's also a three-dimensional, creative, hands-on respite from other classes.
The project is one of several that are the products of Reservoir's technology education program, which uses computer-aided design programs and a 3-D printer to help students create a tangible application of ideas learned in math and science.
The model city, which sits inside a Plexiglas box and will soon be on display in the school's media center, is the product of a program recently lauded as tops in the state.
Reservoir High was awarded the 2014 Program Excellence Award for Maryland from the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. The Reston, Va.-based professional organization for educators in technology, innovation, design and engineering grants the award to one high school in each state every year.
Reservoir will accept the award later this month and will represent state high schools at the association's conference in Orlando, Fla., from March 27 to 29.
Bolstered by a group of four teachers who have made concerted efforts to develop the program in recent years, Reservoir's technology education program now enrolls more than 560 students — more than one-third of the student body.
"We are doing things that are motivating kids and making them aware of opportunities that are beyond high school," said Daniel Rosewag, technology education teacher and department chair. His team includes fellow teachers Dave Walley, Dave Burke and Thomas Roberts.
Technology education classes are more advanced and software-driven than traditional shop courses of years past. Still, Reservoir students say they're a welcome break from classes that don't offer much hands-on activity.
"It gives me a part of my day when I don't have to stress about tests and all of my classwork," said sophomore Amber Ganoe, 15. "It's more hands-on than other classes — where it's like classwork, classwork, tests and then more classwork. Here you get a break from everything."
Among courses offered in the program are Foundations of Technology, the class in which city was constructed. Most of the students taking the entry level course at Reservoir are freshmen and sophomores, and some have never before had a technology education course.
"I wasn't expecting to really like it, because I just took it as a tech-ed credit to graduate," said sophomore Kayla Pindell, 15, who made a futuristic office building for the city. "I liked the fact that we actually do projects, and it's a serious class rather than just taking a class to get an A in it."
Rosewag said more than 200 students through seven different classes of Foundations of Technology took part in the design of the city. Each student, using a computer-design program, designed a building or other structure that was to be placed on one of the area's 46 lots.
Students researched various architectural designs and followed specific scale conversions tables to create the buildings, and students critiqued and voted on which buildings should occupy the 46 lots.
The designs were then fed into a 3-D printer, which constructs objects through the successive layering of material such as plastic, paper or powder.
"It was a really creative project for me because I've never done computer-aided projects before," said freshman Haley Tiller, 14. Her city hall and courthouse pieces are at the center of the project. "I learned all throughout this, and I really liked it."
Students said the project has enabled them to look at cities and towns differently.
"It makes me wonder about all the time they put into it and all the stuff they did to get it ready," said junior Presley Sargent, 16. "We were just making a little city."
"You can take a city design and just shrink it to scale, and you can design a city to a larger scale," said junior James Cunningham III, 15.
Rosewag said the program will help students in fields that are currently growing with the advent of new technology.
"It is imperative that we provide students the best educational experiences possible," Rosewag said. "We must continue to prepare our students for jobs and professions that do not even exist yet."