TOWN OF TONAWANDA —
“It’s a huge change,” he said. “Give them the opportunity and, boom, they’re doing it.”
Student Anthony Candino, who will be a senior at O’Hara starting next week, will be taking physics and engineering courses with Harden this year. He hopes to go on to college to become an aerospace engineer, but that’s less to do with the money involved than the job itself.
“I just think it sounds interesting,” he said.
Another change has been the changing face of engineering students. Harden said that he was initally disappointed that more female O’Hara students weren’t taking physics classes.
“That started to change last year,” he said. “ I really can’t tell you why ... maybe they started to see physic as more accessible. Last year, though, we had more females than males (in physics) in a school that has more males in general. It makes you feel like you’re doing something and it’s working.”
And even if the students don’t ultimately go on to science- or math-related fields, Harden said, the skills learned in those classes carry over to many other things.
“There are things learned in a STEM environment that are applicable to everything: Problem-solving, logical reasoning, working in groups on difficult things. Failure is one thing ... and then to keep working at it,” he said. “When you get into the real world, and fail that first time, that’s a real slap in the face. We need to learn how to fail at things ... and do them again. That’s how you learn.”