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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.

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.

Marquette Engineering Visualization Lab Visit

Teams from Menomonee Falls High School and Elmbrook’s Launch program were able to meet us at Marquette’s Visualization Lab (MARVL) to walk through their models for a new water tower at the Zoo train depot. Chris Larke, the Visual Technology Specialist for the College of Engineering set up the demonstration to include exploded views of the models with supporting documentation arrayed in the background.

To explore the models, and conduct a mini-review, we donned 3D glasses to view stereoscopic images projected on four walls within what staff call “The Cave”.

After a review of both models and a chance for students to drive the presentation, Mark Federle, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, was kind enough to give us a tour of the Olin Engineering building. Thanks Mark and Chris for all that went in to putting this together!


Have Stuff, Need Stuff?

As we continue to test ideas around up-cycling, we have folks offering to give us material and run across others who can make use of what we have.  To date we’ve gathered and distributed equipment for tear-down activities, parts salvaged from that equipment, and everything from postage stamps (cancelled) to plywood (new).

We don’t want to be the warehouse for everything that might come and go.  Since it gives us a better view into what schools can make use of, we are more than happy to facilitate an exchange.

If you need materials for a project or have something a school might use, let us know.

Design Thinking Workshop at Briggs & Stratton

We were delighted to have Briggs & Stratton’s Concept Team host a design thinking workshop for students engaged in our Zoo Train Challenge.  The Briggs team took the students through a crash course in design thinking following the model developed at Stanford’s D School.

With that as background, students walked through a process to:

  • Understand the concerns of Zoo staff who interact with the water tower used to service the Zoo’s steam locomotives
  • Define a key problem that would be the focus of their efforts
  • Generate ideas for potential solutions
  • Create a prototype to demonstrate their concept.

 

Beyond sparking some initial thinking, the session served as a great chance for teachers leading student teams to connect around how they look to run the project.

The session wrapped up with a chance to explore some Briggs & Stratton designs in virtual reality and a great deal of pizza.

Exploring School Lunch at Prince of Peace

When we mentioned our interest in exploring the stories students might tell about lunch at their school, Emily Schober and Joal Clohisy jumped at the chance to try something out before the end of the school year. Prince of Peace was already planning a switch from pre-packaged food that kitchen staff would simply re-heat, to healthier food that would be prepared on site.  They were able to pull a group of about 20 students together, and over the course of a few weeks we worked with them to:

  • Identify issues around school lunch that were important to them
  • Develop ideas to address concerns they have
  • Tell the stories of those ideas in slide presentation

The ideas that came out of that that effort ran from creating healthy versions of favorite family recipes, to calls for an improved culture within the lunchroom– showing courtesy to lunch staff, helping to keep the room clean, and allowing students to sit with friends rather than strictly by classroom.  Today they had a chance to take teachers and staff through their presentations.

Student Perceptions of Safe Routes to School

We met with a group of six students from North Division over a three week period during the school’s Wednesday night twilight programming. Our objective was to see if students were willing to share and document their concerns around getting to and from the North Division to attend both school and the twilight program, which runs from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.

Staff from the twilight program sat in on each session.

Over the course of our discussions, the students noted a number of situations where they feel less safe:

  • For the girls in the group, having men they did not know call out to them as they walk down the street was un-nerving. This was particularly true with older men who had been drinking, since the girls did not know “what they were up to”.
  • Cars often speed through intersections while they are trying to cross the street. This issue is even more of a concern on heavily trafficked streets.
  • They associate cars driving slowly down the block with possible drive-by shooters
  • Students feel less safe being out at night
  • Students feel less safe when they are alone
  • Students fear getting jumped by other people they see on their way to or from school
  • Though less of a problem now, they feared being victims of the point-out/knock-out game
  • Students feel less safe when walking down a block where there has been a drive-by shooting and will tend to avoid it for two to four weeks afterwards
  • Students fear getting robbed on a city bus, or as soon as they exit the bus
  • Students fear walking down streets where they see people they do not trust.
  • Girls in the group felt safer if a boy was walking with them.
  • Students don’t trust that if they were hurt on their walk that anyone would come to their aid.
  • Students don’t count on the police to be able to help or trust asking them for help.
  • Students have the experience that ambulances are not in a hurry to travel to an incident scene in their neighborhood. They equate this with a lower chance of survival should something happen to them.

Students also identified a number of situations that help them feel safer on the journey to/from school:

  • Having a house or store within running distance (one to two blocks) where they know someone provides a greater sense that they could find help. A store where they do not have a relationship with the owner or an employee does not provide a sense of safety.
  • Walking with a one or more other students provides a greater sense of safety
  • Having a backup route in mind that allows the student to avoid a risk they see on their current path provides a greater feeling of safety than cases where they they need to take a different route but don’t know what they will find there.
  • Students feel safer when there are others coming to or leaving school at the same time.
  • Students described the greatest feeling of safety when riding in a school bus or van. In their experience, a staff person (in addition to the bus driver) would be on board to ensure students weren’t hassled. They described riding in a school shuttle with friends, as fun– they felt safe being off the street and were able to relax.

 

Students avoid engaging with adults they don’t know who call out to them as they walk to or from school. If they do know and trust the adults, seeing them on the streets makes them feel more safe.
A front door that has been boarded up indicates to students that something has happened at that location which causes feeling of unease.
Stores only serve as a place students would trust to seek help if they already have a relationship with the owner or an employee.