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UWM Hosts Zoo Train Design Review

This past Friday, UWM’s College of Engineering hosted the conceptual design review for students in this year’s Zoo Train Challenge. Teams from 10 area schools presented their ideas to re-work the coal handling process for the Zoo’s steam locomotives.

The Zoo’s current process has train staff manually sift coal into 17 gallon buckets that may weigh 80 to 90 pounds when full. These are then carried over an often slippery, uneven surface where they are staged for use later in the day. When the train stops at the depot to take on passengers, the train crew will hoist and dump these bucket’s into the train’s coal bin, which is close to four feet above ground level. The train team is also concerned with the deteriorating condition of the coal bin and a retaining wall against which coal ash and fines are stored prior to removal.

New Berlin Eisenhower students present their design concepts. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

At this point in the process, most teams focused on the design of a new coal bin that could keep the coal sheltered from rain, and automating or augmenting the process of sifting and loading coal. Teams presented their designs to review panels that included zoo train operators, staff from We Energies coal handing facility, students and faculty from industrial engineering programs at UWM and MSOE, and engineers with GZA Environmental and Komatsu.

  • Elmbrook Launch

Following each presentation, teams responded to questions and feedback from both panelists and peers from other teams. Both panelists and students in the audience for other presentations also provide written feedback for each team.

Golda Meir students provide feedback on presentation by their peers . (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Students will use the feedback and ideas they gained from this session to finalize their designs. The final design review for the project will be hosted by MSOE at the end of April.

Nothing interesting happens in a classroom without a teacher willing to say yes, so we are extremely grateful to the teachers who stepped up to get their students involved. Thanks also to all those who helped pull both the project and review session together, and of course, the students who have taken on the challenge!

UWM has a brief write-up of the event here: https://uwm.edu/news/gallery/milwaukee-area-students-create-solutions-for-zoo-train/

Zoo train Schools and Teachers

  • Elmbrook Launch – Ryan Osterberg
  • Golda Meir – Tina Gleason
  • Menomonee Falls – Robert Regent-Smith
  • New Berlin Eisenhower – Devin McKinnon
  • New Berlin West – Bill Trudell
  • Pathways High School – Angelique Byrne/Chris Kjaer
  • St. Joan Antida – Cynthia McLinn/Melissa Peppler
  • St. Thomas More – Emily Pirkl
  • Wauwatosa East – Julibeth Favour
  • West Allis Dottke – Bernie McCarthy

Collab Lab 31: Recap & Notes

Our December Collab Lab focused on student run enterprises. We were interested in the kinds of experiences participants hoped students might gain through participation in a student run enterprise.

Our process for the session took a slightly different approach, starting with how we wanted to students to talk about their experience. Our goal was statements that demonstrate a high level of engagement, but are also evocative enough that we could start to imagine how a student run enterprise might foster such an experience.

The initial brainstorming process generated a long list of experience statements, including:

  • “I worked really hard because the results really mattered”
  • “This program helped me find my passion.”
  • “The work here is important to me personally.”
  • “I’m glad I can be myself, express my mind freely.”
  • “I got to know myself better.”
  • “I grew as a person.”
  • “It was my favorite class ever.”
  • “I never thought I could do this.”
  • (with pride) “This is my project!”
  • “I chose to stay because of this.”
  • “I was able to make decisions that allowed me to take risks and learn from mistakes to help our business be more successful.”
  • “I learned how to fail.”
  • “There are real consequences for my actions in this enterprises.”
  • “I felt more empowered than ever.”
  • “This experience allowed me to really own my learning and let me take something I am interested in to a level I couldn’t have done without this experience.”
  • “I have a voice and I have value.”
  • “I understand my role.”
  • “I am proud of what exists here.”
  • “I am valuable to this business.”
  • “This experience helped me see how a business could not only help me but help the community.”
  • “The experiences I’ve had make me think about what I can do to help my community.”
  • “This experience allowed me to grow as a student leader and collaborate with others.”
  • “I have a better understanding of money, how it is created, and whether or not it has value.”
  • “I used the skills I acquired to further my knowledge and abilities.”
  • “I remembered doing this activity in class and could apply the technique learned to help myself.”
  • “This helped me learn how to apply my skills in the real world.”
  • “As a person, it made me make better decisions.  As a member of my community it made me open my eyes and grow up.”
  • “It helped me figure out what I want to do with my life.”

With that list in hand, we asked participants to form small teams to talk through ideas for how a student run enterprise might help students have one or more of those experiences. Our second process change was to have these ideas expressed as “What if we…” questions. We wanted to see if that led to more expansive thinking. Here’s what they came up with:

Individuality Initiative

We hope students might say…

  • “I learned to fail”
  • “This program helped me find my passion”
  • “I have a voice. I have value.”

What if we…

  • created an environment where students weren’t as fearful of failing, but instead were encouraged to learn from their failures ;
  • created a survey or interview process to identify appropriate enterprises and their roles within them;
  • encouraged an education system that catered to helping students find their passion instead of telling them what they should be?

Failing with Open Minds

We hope students might say…

  • “I learned to fail”
  • “I found my passion”

What if we…

  • allowed kids to fail;
  • allowed kids to pursue their passion and explore themselves;
  • sourced innovation from kids?
  • encouraged all to fail of front of an authentic, receptive audience with an open mind while pursuing a curiosity which can become a passion after taking a risk?

Sustainable Futures/Business with an Impact

We hope students might say…

“This experience connects passion to community and allows us to thing about our impact”

What if we…

  • challenge them to make a product or service that helps the environment or community;
  • challenges them to create a business or product that reduces their impact on the environment;
  • create a business that would help their specific neighborhood issue?

Change Agent

We hope students might say…

“I feel more empowered than ever”

What if …

  • this purpose already means something to me;
  • I am interested to lead;
  • we make the community better?

Milwaukee Made

We hope students might say…

“It was so great to work with other students of all ages and to make money and learn how to be successful in a business.”

What if we…

  • break down barriers to students creating a business;
  • we worked with an elementary school, high school, and college to create a store/experience for students to learn from each other to make a real business;
  • raised confidence and creativity through working with college professors and students in collaboration;
  • used the new Marquette space in Schlitz Park to sell the produces of student enterprises and employ high school students to work in the store/paid students for the products they sell;
  • collaborate with Marquette, MATC, Pathways High & Golda Meir to do so?

Try – Fail – Reflect (repeat)

We hope students might say…

“I learned how to fail.”

What if we…

  • take time to reflect after failure;
  • normalized failure;
  • push students outside of their comfort zone?

Thanks to The Commons for providing the space and to our featured participants for sharing their expertise and ideas:

Que El-Amin Co founder Young Enterprising Society

Claire Friona — Co-founder of Agricycle Global

Jill Hughes — Senior Business Academy instructor, Menomonee Falls High School

Owen Raisch — Associate Director, Student-Run Business Program at Marquette University

Collab Lab 30: Recap & Notes

Our November Collab Lab focused on opportunities to engage students around green infrastructure. We asked participants to brainstorm ideas around different types of green infrastructure as they are designed, installed or in service, using the inventory provided within the City of Milwaukee’s Green Infrastructure Plan. From there we paired up educators with representatives from industry, higher-ed, non-profits, and local government and had them flesh out a specific idea in greater detail.

Here’s what they came up with:

Identify targets sites for green infrastructure

Identify vacant lots in the students’ neighborhood to active and install stormwater trees, gardens, community art.

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain gardens
  • Stormwater trees
  • Native landscaping
  • Regenerative stormwater conveyance
  • Greenways & land conservation

Phases targeted:

  • Design
  • Installation

Desired experience for students:

  • Mapping GIS
  • Think about neighborhood & community
  • This is worth it!
  • Evidence and argument
  • Budgeting and finance
  • Understanding different land use/space factors
  • History of the area, why a particular lot is vacant
  • Cultural experience of neighborhood as an influence to art
  • Durability of art

What students will need:

  • Mapping software
  • Data
  • Facilitator/guides to support — experts, & exemplars
  • Documentation and presentation skills

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • UWM School of Architecture & Urban Planning
  • Youth Council @ City Hall
  • Pocket parks tour

How students might share their work:

  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
  • Story Map
  • Social media/website
  • Share with community service organizations, the experts that helped them.
  • Storytelling– “What did I learn”

Art within Native Landscaping

Design art projects within a native landscape

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Native Landscaping

Desired experience for students:

  • Cross curricula – art/science/math
  • Exploring new things
  • Youth voice/leadership
  • New materials
  • Mentoring
  • Culture

What students will need:

  • Guidance/leadership to understand and get excited
  • Research on native landscapes, sustainable materials (what they are, why they are important)
  • Location, calendar, transportation

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Partner with college students
  • Landscape/gardening experts

How students might share their work:

  • Community grand opening, with presentation by youth
  • Garden Gallery (art) night

Low tech watering systems

Create olla pots or other system to water gardens when students/volunteers may not be available to do so.

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns

Phases targeted:

  • Design
  • Installation
  • In Use

Desired experience for students:

  • Research the history of olla pots
  • Design a system where rain barrels fill the pots (how many rain barrels?)
  • Calculate how much water might be captured
  • Determine the size of pots that might be necessary for a particular garden or space
  • Monitor gardens to make sure the system is working
  • Compare performance at different times of year
  • Evaluate how the long the system can run without support
  • Calibrate the outflow rate from rain barrels so that it is most effective

What students will need:

  • History of olla pots & agriculture
  • Math — planning for the # of pots for the area
  • Science — expected rainfall for the area, ecology, human impact
  • Communication skills — share what they did
  • Reading & writing
  • Arts — decorating barrels, making their own pots @ schools with kiln [can we make our own rain barrels?]

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Community connections for support in monitoring
  • Environmental engineers
  • fresh coast guardians from MMSD
  • Teens Grow Greens for different ideas on irrigation
  • Pottery infrastructure

How students might share their work:

  • video story
  • Present @ Science Strikes Back? [Escuela Verde?]
  • Share after a full growing season for data collection
  • Share publicly — news, radio, social media, USDA

Butterfly Garden

Reclaim paved area of “playground” for stormwater management and wildlife habitat restoration.

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain gardens
  • Native landscaping
  • Bioswales
  • Depaving
  • Soil Amendments

Phases targeted:

  • Design
  • Installation
  • In use

What students should experience:

  • Design process — native plants, permaculture, pollinator habitat, education of younger students
  • Self directed personalized learning

What students will need:

  • Research skills
  • Curiosity
  • Information sources
  • Access to professionals/experts

How students might share their work:

  • Photo voice
  • Signage
  • Newsletters & written media

Permeable paving meets math

Use installation of permeable paving as a chance to exercise mathematical thinking.

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Permeable paving

What students should experience:

  • Apply math concepts (geometry, algebra, etc) when designing permeable walkway through a park
  • Art, design, science of materials
  • Exploration of career paths
  • Presentation of findings

What students will need:

  • Access to practitioners
  • Manipulation/manufacturing of materials
  • Best practices for fitting pieces together
  • Permeable paving vs alternatives
  • Cost data for possible choices — installation, maintenance, long term costs

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Practitioners: non profits, contractors, college student mentors
  • MMSD
  • Artists
  • Landscapers
  • Tours of UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, GWC, MMSD, etc.)

How students might share their work:

  • Green Students Conference
    • Opportunity for students across schools/districts to present GI projects to each other
    • Green job fair — in part, the conference could be funded by exhibitors (engineers, landscapers, etc.) who do a job fair

GI Scavenger hunt

Inventory and map green infrastructure within students’ community; identify where water is coming from; find as many examples as possible, create a map using GIS software

What students should experience:

  • The possibilities that exist in different areas
  • Problem solving using mapping software
  • Ability to visualize things on a map

What students will need:

  • Mapping software and an introduction to using it
  • General location for finding green infrastructure
  • Lesson on green infrastructure installations and interventions

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Students who did bigger project

How students might share their work:

  • Story map

Water quality assessment

Assess the water quality in the local community

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns
  • Rain gardens
  • Soil Amendments

What students should experience:

  • Data analysis
  • Hands on development of project
  • Ownership & involvement
  • Success & Impact

What students will need:

  • Space
  • Native plants
  • Raspberry Pi computer
  • Types of soil
  • Types of compost
  • Gravel
  • Sensors for moisture/contamination
  • Water quality test kits

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Upham Woods — digital observation kits
  • Sweetwater – Adopt A Storm Drain
  • River Keepers
  • Plastic Free MKE

How students might share their work:

  • Social media
  • Murals
  • Logos
  • Mottos
  • Peer to peer education — teach others to continue project
  • Brand it
  • Give it legitimacy

Greening Alleys

Create a list of priorities for green alleys near a school, identify and collect the data to use in prioritizing the alleys.

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Green streets and alleys

What students should experience:

  • Surveying the neighborhood
  • Identifying improvements and analyzing lowest cost estimates of putting in improvements
  • Communication of survey, improvements,

What students will need:

  • Access to expertise
  • Computers/data sets
  • Estimation software/templates

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • MMSD — Lisa Sasso, Bre Plier, Nadia Vogt
  • DPW — Nader Jabber
  • WDNE — Ben Benninghoff, Samantha Katt
  • Civil Engineers — Justin Hegerty (Reflo), Kara Koch (SSE)
  • Communications specialist

How students might share their work:

  • Entering the project in a competition
  • Via website/communication pieces they design
  • Presenting at a conference
  • Presenting to politicians/city administrators

Intervention as Art

Create an environmental solution that is a form of art

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns [start here but then see where it may connect to something else]

What students should experience:

  • Allow students to develop creative problem solving, apply multiple disciplines (math, science, etc.) in order to create a solution
  • Allow student to assess the financial components/cost of implementing the art

What students will need:

  • Location to meet
  • Access to technology and materials
  • Sample size materials to create prototype of artwork
  • Transportation
  • Design expertise (art coaches/artists)
  • Self determination

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Artists
  • Engineers
  • Government officials & leaders
  • Foundations
  • Contractors (in trades)

How students might share their work:

  • Social media
  • Press engagements
  • Unveiling events
  • Presentations

GI target map

Map neighborhood to identify opportunities to install green infrastructure

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns
  • Native landscaping
  • Bioswales
  • Green streets & alleys
  • Soil amendments

Phase targeted:

  • Design

What students should experience:

  • Gain understanding of neighborhood and existing conditions
  • Gain understanding of community stakeholders
  • Build researching skills (reputable data)
  • Become informed skeptics
  • Gain understanding of types & applications for green infrastructure

What students will need:

  • Background in types of GI
  • Mapping support — map individual neighborhoods, add all to larger map
  • Critical thinking/perseverance
  • People skills — coaching/modeling
  • Arrange stakeholder meetings/presentations
  • Watershed locations

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Reflo
  • Eco Office
  • Environmental Engineers
  • SFS
  • Community organizations in neighborhood

How students might share their work:

  • Social media posts
  • Health fair at North Division
  • MPS STEM Fair

Heat Islands

Monitor/change heat island effect through interactive materials

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain gardens
  • Native landscaping
  • Bioswales
  • Stormwater trees
  • Depaving
  • Green streets & alleys
  • Greenways & land conservation
  • Green roofs

Phase targeted:

  • In use

What students should experience:

  • Gain an appreciation for environmental awareness
  • Visually see how GI can reduce heat island effect

What students will need:

  • Thermal imaging – drone
  • Students map with “hot spots”
  • Identify areas that would benefit from green infrastructure
  • What could be done– trees plants, gardens
  • See how different GI might reduce heat

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Engineering firms with surveyors
  • College students who work with GIS

How students might share their work:

  • Presentation to town, city, community
  • Design plan
  • From the areas identified, have students go to companies to implement or advertise their action plan

Designing School Building Projects

Allow students to design landscape areas; promote mentor-ship to have older students work with younger students; during construction, kids can monitor waste vs recycled materials

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain gardens
  • Native landscaping
  • Stormwater trees
  • Soil amendments

Phase targeted:

  • Design
  • Installation
  • In use

What students should experience:

  • Sense of ownership, cooperation, achievement
  • Growing consumable product
  • Science

What students will need:

  • Planting science and how to nurture
  • Planting buddies

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Contractors
  • Landscapers
  • Engineers
  • Business relationships for recycling
  • Farmers

How students might share their work:

  • Through food on table
  • Science & math through recycling
  • Personal development through succeeding in the process

Watershed Challenge

How can we positively effect the watershed in a way that will create buy in and support from the community


Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns
  • Rain gardens
  • Stormwater trees
  • Soil amendments

Phases targeted:

  • Design

What students should experience:

  • Career connections
  • Get out in the field
  • Community connections – picking up trash connected to effects on watershed, talking to community, brainstorming community problems
  • Urban water cycle – treatment plant
  • Science/environmental connection — labs to “see it”
  • Interdisciplinary — data, writing, technology

What students will need:

  • Background knowledge– getting off campus, maps science
  • Access to to local experts
  • Community connections — talking to people in neighborhood, observing the location
  • Structure/system for the design part of the project

Who students should meet as part of the effort:

  • Water school
  • Washington Park Urban Ecology Center
  • Storm Water Solutions
  • Engineers that design infrastructure — public & private
  • Go to a school that did a similar project
  • Groundworks MKE
  • Milwaukee Water Commons
  • Reflo
  • MMSD (Christina Taddy)
  • River Keeper
  • Plastic Free MKE
  • Sweetwater (Adopt a Storm Drain)
  • Upham Woods

Artful Capstone

Bring math, science, and art together for artful landscaping solutions; understanding the design process

Green infrastructure targeted:

  • Rain barrels & cisterns
  • Permeable pavement
  • Green Roofs [hotels & apartments]

What students should experience:

  • Awareness of environment
  • Seeing project through to completion
  • Impact on community
  • Puzzle solving
  • Design process
  • Connecting things to their everyday life
  • Opportunities to see career options

What students will need:

  • Time
  • Parental support
  • Access to opportunities
  • Mentoring
  • Inspiration
  • Pragmatic examples
  • Connections to their lives
  • Opportunity to take risks

Who students should meet as part of this work:

  • Mentors
  • Government officials
  • Home owners
  • Community members

How students might share their work:

  • Authentic audience
  • Other students around the world through
    • Tik Tok
    • 20 20
    • 15s Film
    • Pachakucha

Thanks to The Commons for providing the space and to our featured participants for sharing their expertise and ideas:

Catherine Bronikowski — Math Dept. Chair, North Division High School

Justin Hegarty — Executive Director
Lisa Neeb — Green Schools Project Manager
Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions

Kara Koch — Senior Project Engineer,  Stormwater Solutions Engineering

Linda Reid — Principal,  Water 365

Erick Shambarger — Director of Environmental Sustainability, City of Milwaukee

Rosheen Styczinski — Principal/Landscape Architect, New Eden Landscape Architecture

James Wasley — Professor, UWM School of Architecture & Urban Planning

Resources:

MATC Students Put Zoo Train on the Map

While MATC students were doing fieldwork to create a survey of the coal handling area for our Zoo Train Challenge, they took the time to shoot some 3D photos. Those images are now available on Google Maps, and give a good look at the site our Zoo Train students are focused on.

To view other images in the series, pull up the Zoo on Google Maps, and click the icon of the little person in the lower right corner of your browser

We Energies Hosts Site Tours for Zoo Train Students

Over the past two days, We Energies hosted four tours of their coal handling facility in Oak Creek for students in our Zoo Train Challenge. A team of five from We Energies walked students through the procedures they follow to safely store and move coal from when it arrives by train to when it is used in the power plant. On their tour of the facility, students were able to see the equipment and systems in use.

What students learned about how to manage coal on a very large scale, they will now bring to bear as they think through how to revise the coal handling process at the Zoo.

Collab Lab 29 – Recap & Notes

Our 4th season of Collab Labs kicked off on October 10th with a focus on building skilled trades talent.  We began the discussion by building an inventory of the skills we’d like to see students develop. These fell into two broad categories:

Technical Skills

  • Design Skills
  • Read blueprints & technical drawings
  • Fine motor skills/hand-eye coordination
  • Math and measurement
  • Budgeting/Understanding job costs
  • General understanding of construction trades
  • Equipment/resource planning

Soft Skills

  • Creativity/Innovation/Problem solving
  • Fail Fast
  • Safety
  • Ability to take constructive criticism
  • Ability to take direction
  • Self Advocacy
  • Self discipline/integrity/follow through/show up ready to work
  • Self confidence
  • Determination/grit
  • Collaboration/Interpersonal skills within a team
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to listen
  • Willingness to learn/ask thoughtful question

From there we asked each discussion group to talk through experiences that do or could provide opportunities to build those skills. Here’s what they came up with:

  • Build2Learn Camp $500 stipend for summer workshop
  • European model – apprentices
  • Engage employers – job shadow
  • Inspire/Awe – Makerspace Home Depot creative space
  • Intentionally incorporate soft skills into lessons
  • Provide high interest projects
  • Bring industry speakers into the classroom
  • Real world applications with purpose – e.g. 3D prosthetics
  • Mentorships
  • Teamwork: moving a project to completion
  • Presenting/exhibiting craft work
  • Building confidence with no or low risk simulations.
  • Leverage connections and take them to scale
  • Address skills gaps with “it takes a village” perspective
  • Get professionals into classrooms
    • They can learn from students
    • Talk with students, not down to them

Our final step was to have each group take those ideas, talk through what a program might look like, and share that out with the entire group. Here’s where they landed:

Project Start to finish real world application

  • Build a house
  • Bring in industry
  • Have mentors
  • Engage employers
  • Build soft skills
  • Build technical skills

Goal is to have job ready workers, provide apprenticeships, job opportunities.

Identify industry partner/employer

  • Ask “What do you need from us?”
  • Identify what workforce needs exist
  • Identify training/skills needed

Company sponsored projects

  • Materials or time
  • Interviews of
    • the company
    • the student
  • Interdisciplinary/project based learning
  • Working with other schools/districts
  • Protocols
  • Feedback models – Hard on content/soft on person
  • Leverage technology
    • Skype team meetings
    • Drone/webcams of projects progressing
    • Build excitement about upcoming technologies

Early Hands-on Exposure

  • Youth apprenticeships
  • Out of comfort zone
  • Peer mentorship
  • Self-realization/mediation
  • Options (electives)

Students: Littles – early exposure

Education Workplace: Welcoming anti-racist, data-driven, performance based

What’s needed to move forward: Looking past personal bias, equal access to opportunities, a cultural shift

 

Industry-owned Youth Apprenticeships

  • IDing under-served population
  • Mapped to skilled trades values and skills
  • Bringing the industry straight to the families

Thanks to CG Schmidt for sponsoring our food and beverages for the evening, The Commons for providing the space, and to our featured participants for sharing their expertise and ideas,

Peter Graven – Earth Science/ Life Science/ Robotics, Deer Creek Intermediate School (St Francis)

Craig Griffie – Technology Education, Brown Deer High School

Tracey Griffith – HR Outreach Manager, Walbec Group

Crystal Marmolejo – Project Engineer, CG Schmidt

Reginald Reed – Founder/CEO, Mindful Staffing Solutions

Josh Rudolf – Scheduling Manager, Mortenson 

Career Interviews – An Inside Look

Chloe Smith is the UWM PhD student leading the English classes working piloting our Career Interviews project.  She’s published a blog post about the experience here

Things are off to a good start:

I’m blown away by how engaged these students have been, and how willing they are to work through a research process that, for most of them, is entirely new. They’re approaching these interviews—and the prospect of the research that will come after—with enthusiasm and creativity.

Zoo Train Challenge for 2019-2020 Kick-Off

This year 140 students from 11 area schools will participate in our Zoo Train Challenge– redesign the coal handling process used for the Zoo’s steam locomotives. At yesterday’s kick-off event, students had a chance to visit the site, see what it’s like to lift a bushel bucket of coal, and meet their peers from other schools.

Before we went into a Q & A session, we sat students at tables where they got to know peers from other schools and worked together to identify the questions they wanted to see answered at the session. That process was led by Dr. David Howell from MSOE, who brought along 13 MSOE student volunteers to help facilitate the work at each table.

While students went through that work, teachers and industry advisers had a chance to meet and talk through how they will run the project in their classrooms. Two New Berlin students from last year’s challenge joined us for the event– one, who went to the school board for permission to retake the engineering class so she could participate this year, and a second who is now at MSOE, and came along to help.

How conversations lead in interesting directions

Shevaun Watson, Director of the composition program in UWM’s English Department, and I met for coffee in April to talk about her work on the landscape of languages.  Followers of Learn Deep know of our interest in maps as a point of engagement for students, and I was curious to learn more.  There’s an interesting project in that work, particularly for schools with students who speak a diverse range of languages.

Towards what I had expected to be the end of our conversation, Shevaun asked what else we were working on.  I mentioned an idea that had originated in conversations at Reagan High School.  While the school had healthcare career tracks, students had little sense of the broad range of careers inside of healthcare or the varied paths people might take to get there.  We thought an interesting way to address that would be to have students interview folks in a wide range of health care careers.  The focus would not be on the classes they took or what their day to day work looks like, but the experiences they had which led them to their career and helped develop the skills they now use.  We saw this as a process that could be used across domains, and, if the stories could be gathered and told by students across the community, a great resource for career exploration.

Shevaun was intrigued — she and her colleagues have been looking at ways to leverage the humanities for community engagement.  They were also getting a little tired of reading “interest papers” on abortion, gun control, and legalizing marijuana.  She asked “What if we gave you a couple of sections of a freshman English class to pilot the process?”  Over the summer we met with Shevaun’s team and teachers from Reagan, New Berlin, and Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy to map out what that might look like, and what the high schools teachers would need to pull the work into their classes.

Our pilot is now underway.  We tapped our network to assemble a pool of interview candidates that includes everyone from a community healthcare advocate  to bio-medical engineers to sports medicine professionals to an attorney representing the rights of the disabled.   Students will conduct their interviews the week of October 7th. We look forward to where this will lead.