LJ Create Stem Lab Case Study – Port Clinton Middle School

Heather Pohlabel


Up to 21 students at a time can explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) with their instructor, Ron Aukerman in The Port Clinton Middle School STEM lab, which utilizes Buckeye Educational Systems’ Middle School STEM solution from LJ Create.

“In the dual screen lab, all student work is done online,” Auckerman explained.  “The LJ Create LMS has been a tremendous upgrade from the classroom server curriculum. Thanks to our district’s T1 line, there is barely any lag between student submission, teacher reception and feedback, and student reception of graded work. All class lessons come from the LJ Cloud and related assignments are submitted via a digital dropbox program. The LJ Cloud has made the distribution of curriculum easier. ”

Auckerman commented on his curriculum. “While I should still be able to instruct the curriculum without the technology, I really can not imagine doing so.  Each day incorporates many aspects of technology,” he explained.

Port Clinton Middle School Principal Carrie Sanchez agreed. “This year, Ron’s STEM class has been sharing with the science teacher the curriculum that has been made available through Buckeye Educational Systems for a more integrated approach, building-wide,” she shared.

“If we’re going to present 21st century instruction to our students, we need to give them 21st century tools”

“Our STEM program is currently an elective,” Sanchez continued. “We see a good portion of our students in the class year after year. One of the nice things about the format through Buckeye is that the teacher can differentiate a little bit and allow students who have more of a working understanding to have extended learning or deeper exploration of topics.”

“My classroom is extremely student-based,” explained Auckerman. “The students are taught how to locate their assignments on our classroom LMS and choose the correct LJ Create lesson from the list in the Cloud. This enables me to really differentiate the work for my class.  Students complete assignments at their pace – taking longer if necessary, or moving ahead when completed. As a former math teacher, this method of curriculum instruction far exceeds any options I had in the math environment. There are some days where I will have 12 students doing 12 different lessons!  It keeps me on my toes, but it is what’s best for my class.”

Port Clinton Middle School’s Production Lab uses the ECO House, Thermoject, Vacuum Former, Foam Cutter, Electronic Communication Simulator, RoboTEK II, Mechanism Trainer, and Electricity Module Trainer. A 3D printer is the newest addition to the lab. “The production lab is awesome. Students are constantly working on different projects in the lab. It enables them to have more than enough space to design and build. The 3D printer has brought some excitement to the class just by its presence,” Auckerman said.

PC hardware

“I would definitely love to grow the lab. Technology keeps evolving, and so must my teaching style, curriculum and lab. I need not be on the cutting edge, but I cannot be five years behind what is current,” Auckerman continued.

“If we’re going to present 21st century instruction to our students, we need to give them 21st century tools,” Sanchez affirmed.

In addition to a smoother running classroom and accessibility of curriculum. Auckerman and Sanchez both feel Buckeye Educational Systems’ LJ Create has increased the probability of success of their students on state tests.

“I believe that my STEM students should be more prepared for the NGAs than non-STEM classes because are using applications nearly every day. All of our work is digitally presented and submitted. As they prepare for their next gen assessments, my class provides them with much needed practice,” Auckerman stated.

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Sanchez stated the online modules offered by the STEM software help students prepare for state testing. “They are learning to be more tech-savvy and utilizing the computer for an instructional device as opposed to a game or entertainment. It’s teaching them to be ‘tech masters’, and that is very helpful.”

“Buckeye offers the total package – curriculum, customer service, products that are quality, and tutorials on anything you’re using. If it belongs in a Tech Ed classroom, Buckeye does a great job with it,” Auckerman noted.

“Buckeye Educational Systems and LJ Create have been awesome with customer support. Many businesses could learn a lesson from either of these two companies,” Auckerman commented. “Jason, Jake, and Jill from Buckeye are all top-notch at what they do. Jill is prompt with order requests or even by asking questions about what materials we may need. Jake has done a wonderful job at setting up equipment for me, providing information on how to use it and implement it in class, and Jason runs an exceptional company that is always there for its customers. Computer hardware problems are addressed quickly. Software problems can be fixed by following easy instructions over the phone,” Auckerman commented.

“The 3D Printer has brought some excitement to the class just by its presence”

“We are highly satisfied with the instant feedback from Buckeye Educational Systems and the constant support’” Sanchez echoed. “There is never a time that we have needed help that we have not been able to get it instantaneously, whether in person or via email or phone from Buckeye Educational Systems’ friendly staff and representatives,” she said.

“As Ron continues to develop his program in the STEM lab, we have seen a significant uptick in the number of kids who want to take the classes year after year. Parents are specifically requesting it because they see the relevance to real world experiences and employment.” Sanchez added.

“This is real life. The instruction is so universal. The world is shrinking because knowledge is growing and we just want to prepare them for the world that is around them. The neat thing is we can put tools in their hands and we don’t even know what the parameters are for them. The sky is the limit,” Sanchez stated

By Heather Pohlabel

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