Teacher Ralph Gee III Helps Students Embrace ‘Scientific Approach’

RalphWhen young Ralph Gee III was growing up in rural La Porte County, he got inspiration from his father, a truck driver, to study the stars. “I used to help Dad work on trucks and then we’d stay up to watch documentaries.” The grandson of a steel worker, this passion for science has taken root as an Engineering Technology teacher and coach. Today, he is helping to lead a cultural shift at Michigan City High School. “A common misconception is that every student in this class is going to be an engineer.” The reality is that he is preparing students to think differently about how they approach their lives.  Ultimately, he hopes students will begin to take a more scientific approach to life’s decisions. For today’s students whom he calls “digital natives,” he and other faculty are opening their eyes on how technology works, and how they can use design principles.  For example, when Ralph realized that special needs students would benefit from a sensory or calming room, the school’s robotics team brainstormed. They designed a special room sponsored by ArcelorMittal and others. One of the things they built was the “ball pit” with 1500 balls, mostly red. “Then they learned red is not a calming color,” Ralph said. So they pivoted and replaced the balls. “We’re showing engineering students how to make connections to make things better,” Ralph said.

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