Course Syllabus

A link to the google document can be found here.


Silicon STEM Academy

STEM Stars

Fall 2017


Course Syllabus: STEM Stars 3 Class Hours per Week

Instructor: Ms. Katrina Siegfried

Junior Instructor: Andrew Carpender

Office Hours: In SSA makerspace, main room

M 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM before class

M 6:30 PM – 7:15 PM after class

W 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM before class

W 6:30 PM – 7:15 PM after class

Contact me in Slack anytime

Telephone: cell 302.598.5506


Course Website / Blog:

Please excuse my formality for a moment while I introduce class structure  🙂

Course Description

This course is a project-based course that is designed to utilize the full skill-set of Silicon STEM Academy students. Students, under the guide of instructors, will plan, develop, and create their own standalone project based around the technology of the semester. In addition to working on a personal project, students will develop a blog page that will be used to showcase their project work, and communicate thoughts and ideas with me throughout the course.  STEM Stars is designed to let the future makers and engineering of SSA’s nerd flags fly proudly, it is designed to be a fun experience. That being said it will require work and overcoming challenges, so students are expected to enter the class with a desire to think critically and solve problems.This course is ongoing; what this means is that projects will be designed to fit within the semester but by no means should be limited in scope beyond that time frame. For example, if “phase 1” of the project is finished in Fall, it would be spectacular for a students to then continue on to “phase 2” in the Spring. Additionally, this course is focused on iterative design, which means that designs and projects are always subject to continuous review and improvement. As students engage in the design process, they will learn many new skills, techniques, and methodologies which will likely alter their initial thought processes. For Fall 2017, we are focused on microcontroller-based projects.


Science, engineering, technology, and math are skill-sets which are becoming increasingly critical for success in today’s rapidly changing world. Up to this point, students have learned various STEM skills, but until they can actualize those skills and apply them in a meaningful way, they cannot demonstrate that skill-set. STEM Stars offers these “high-flyers” a chance to put their know-how on display and synthesize their various skill-sets into a fully-enclosed student-designed-and-built project. Perhaps most important of all, students will document their project development in a way that they can show friends, parents, future employers, and for many – colleges. Documentation is highly important in engineering – it helps prevent recurring mistakes, it allows others to understand your work, and it demonstrates a thorough understanding of the engineering process. Most importantly, it allows parents to know what their student is working on through the course. As previously mentioned, this class is not only designed to supply them with an advanced skill-set, but to be fun! In order to have fun in this class we have to work hard – this is a class for students who want to build a specific project. It is OK if they don’t know what that project is yet, that’s what the instructors are here for!


In order to create a community outside of the course, and to communicate between each other and instructors in the course, students will create a Slack account. Slack is a team-based messaging system used by many tech companies and project groups. Parents can and are also encouraged to join! The slack workspace is SSASTEMStarsFall2017. Students will have to create a login and password for Slack. This is the group of friends I wish I had in middle and high school, and I want to foster a supportive, engaging, and nerdy community in and out of the classroom.


This is the web applet we will use to develop the student blogs. A basic account is free. Students will need to create a login and password for themselves on WordPress and send their blog site to instructors. I DO check their blogs weekly, so they are expected to update regularly in order to move forward with project development.

Required Materials

For the Fall 2017 class, students will be required to bring a data transferring Micro USB cable. There may be some project materials they will be asked to collect from home – old speakers, cords, charging blocks. Laptops will be provided but students are welcome to use their own. I just ask that if students do prefer to bring their own laptop that they make sure to bring their laptop and cord to every class; if this is a foreseeable obstacle, I would prefer they plan to use SSA’s laptops.

Project Budget

Students will have a project budget of $40 that is a part of the STEM Stars course fees and will be expected to submit sketches, proposals, and bill of materials to workshop with me before parts are ordered. In addition to the project budget, students will be provided with a microcontroller, personal project box, breadboard, and jumper wires. Take it from me – electronics can quickly become an expensive hobby – but it doesn’t have to be! Fiscal responsibility is important in project development and in life. The instructors will help students develop project plans with appropriate budget considerations. Part of this may mean that the odd part they may have laying around the house may need to be brought from home such as old computer speakers, charging cables, etc. These needs will likely be specific to each student’s project and I will communicate these needs directly with parents as they arise.


As this is a capstone course, students are expected to demonstrate high-levels of maturity and responsibility. These students will have access to the plethora of tools available to them from SSA, as well as a large selection of instructors’ personal electronics and tools. It is expected that students use technology in appropriate ways, take “brain breaks” away from the group if needed to refocus, be present, engaged, and serve as mentors and role models for the younger students of SSA. The open nature of our workspace means that younger SSA students will be able to watch the STEM Stars work, so STEM Stars always need to be their best selves while at SSA. If a student is failing to meet the expectations, they will first be given a warning and private conversation with the instructor; the next step is a meeting between parent(s), student, and instructors. The ability to conduct oneself appropriately is non-negotiable. If at any time you feel there may be any issues with your student, please reach out to myself or SSA immediately so we can rectify any issues.

Personal Note

I do understand this document sounds very serious and intimidating; my purpose with this document is to outline the concrete structure of the course. Within this structure, the primary goal – in addition to building a project – is to have FUN! With 12+ different student projects at any one time, I need to have an organized framework to operate within. That being said, I encourage students to socialize, ask questions, and to create a fun, welcoming community within and outside of our class. I will send out emails every week or so to parents to update them with the class goings-on, and encourage communication with me at any time. In addition, you can always check our class website/blog to see recaps of class and extra information about course content. I will communicate with students as a group and individually on a weekly basis by email and by Slack, so learning to check email and communicate is an important component of this class.

Thank you so much for choosing to be a part of STEM Stars!

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