Building Bridges

Twelve years ago, Ryan Piwetz made a huge career change that continues to benefit the students of Port Aransas ISD. Previously an engineer, Piwetz brings experience and expertise to his physics, environmental science and engineering students. On the first day of school, his physics students gather around a pool table in the back of the classroom and attempt to shoot a pool ball into a pocket. Using this fun and familiar pastime, Piwetz introduces many of the concepts they’ll learn that year and creates a fun and exciting environment for learning on day one. Starting with the game of pool, students continue to learn throughout the year by designing and maintaining aquariums that line the walls of the classroom, shaking toy springs down the hallway stairs to illustrate waves and shooting the model rockets they designed from the launcher that Piwetz built just for this culminating lesson.

Recently, Piwetz’s engineering students finished their bridge projects. The students had to go through the entire design and construction process—just as Piwetz did as an engineer—including analyzing the problem, coming up with a conceptual design and calculating the cost before they began building their craft stick bridges. To add a real-world experience to the project, the engineering teams had to present their projects to an audience of fifth graders. After the presentations, the strength of their bridges was tested while the fifth graders watched closely. Using equipment purchased from a grant awarded by the Port Aransas Education Foundation, the strength test was recorded on video and data was collected for future analysis.

His students remain grateful that Piwetz made the choice to become a teacher. His positive influence in the lives of future engineers and scientists contributes to the legacy of excellence in Texas public education. #IAmTXEd Port Aransas Independent School District