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Collab Lab 36: Experiments for Distance Learning

How might students become part of the solution for distance learning?

We’re working with schools on two experiments for the Covid 19 era. The first is to understand what it takes to enable student-led tech support for distance learning technology. The second is to explore how a student led effort might tap upcycled material from industry to create kits and manipulatives for hands-on engineering and math at home.

For this session we’ll give a quick overview of each effort and move to breakout rooms to explore each idea further. Have ideas you want to share, interested in getting involved or starting something at your school?  Here’s your chance.

Join us on Zoom!

 

STEM Education in a Time of Distance Learning

A follow up conversation…

At STEM Forward’s sySTEMnow conference on Thursday October 29th we’ll facilitate a discussion on how to effectively engage students in STEM education under distance learning.  At the conference, we’ll run separate breakout groups for elementary, middle, and high school.  This follow up session will give us a chance to recap what we heard on Thursday, and explore where collaborative efforts might address some of the issues raised.

Developing Engineering Talent

In our work with schools over the past 4 years we’ve noted some key gaps in experiences and skills that limit what students are able to accomplish on K-12 engineering projects. We’ve also noticed that pulling in the resources that can support students as they take on more complex work is much easier when there’s a chance to see students do great things.

There are systems in place that allow kids coming out of high school to perform at a very high level in music or sports.

What if we did the same for engineering?

At Learn Deep we see the potential for a great K-12 farm system to develop diverse engineering talent in Milwaukee and want to get that moving as a collaborative effort. On Tuesday, we took the first step by convening a working session that included K-12 educators, engineering faculty, industry mentors, and organizations with STEM/engineering programming for K-12 students. As a group we used that session to identify the gaps in skills and experiences that slow their development of talents useful in engineering. 

photo of Learn Deep workshop attendees discussing engineering talent development approaches
educators, engineers and academics discuss gaps in developing great engineering talent.

What makes for an effective problem solver? 

We put together the diagram here a few years ago as we pondered this question.  Effective problem solvers draw on each of these 4 areas:

Experiences
What does this problem remind me of?

  • How I felt
  • How people reacted
  • What worked
  • What didn’t work
  • etc…

Knowledge
What knowledge can I bring?

  • Math
  • Technology
  • Design
  • Psychology
  • History
  • Tools are appropriate for a problem like this,
  • etc…

Relationships
Who do I know that can:

  • Support me
  • Provide guidance/advice
  • Connect me to others
  • Act as a mentor
  • etc…?

Skills
What skills can I bring?

  • Analytical
  • Creative
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Prototyping
  • etc…

Dispositions
I bring:

  • Curiosity
  • Grit
  • Growth mindset
  • Openness
  • etc…

We have been using this insight in the development of many of our projects to date, including our unique Zoo Train Engineering project.

What would we like to see as students develop talents that are valued in engineers?

Not surprisingly, this structure works pretty well for talking through what we heard from the group. 

Experiences

  • Building things
  • Working with tools
  • Working with materials and other resources
  • Designing solutions for real world problems
  • Using mathematical reasoning to flesh out and evaluate design options
  • Working as part of a team
  • Problem solving in a context that emphasizes process over results
  • Working alongside a college student or professional to understand how they approach engineering challenges
  • Presenting their work to an authentic audience

Knowledge

  • Comfort with introductory statistics
  • “Calculus ready” math knowledge by high school graduation
  • Physics
  • Understanding of how materials go together

Relationships

  • Knowing an engineer that “looks like me”
  • Feeling part of a team

Skills

  • Spatial thinking
  • Effective time management
  • Able to listen to and understand a customer’s needs
  • Able to use empathy and observation to identify or understand a problem someone else has.
  • Able to build a solid understanding of a problem before jumping to solutions
  • Able to effectively communicate one’s ideas

Dispositions

  • Able to self direct learning
  • Willingness to explore “risky” options
  • Having a sense of ownership of one’s work
  • Resourcefulness — willing to seek out help or other resources to gain understanding
  • Willingness to accept “failure”– e.g. recognize that a solution does not work and learn from that.
  • Willingness to recognize that the first, last, or their own idea for a possible solution may not be the best approach
  • Problem seeking — willingness to see out problems that might be interesting to solve

What do effective farm systems in other domains look like?

In preparation for the session we pulled together the following table, which sketches out the formal and informal opportunities students have to develop their talents in sports and music. As one ponders what a farm system for engineering talent might look like, one question that jumps out to us is where are the opportunities for play, and are they available to students who’s families may not have the resources to provide materials which can allow that to happen.

SettingSportsMusic
Informal play Pick up games with friends/family, might include a mix of ages; no requirement for full field or team–e.g. play with what and who you have availableNo emphasis on practice, but one might get some informal coaching/feedback from other participants during play  (“nice pass”, “next time you are doing that, look for…”) Play alone or with friends/family. Might include a mix of ages; no requirement for specific combination of instruments–e.g. play with what and who you have available.No emphasis on practice, but one might get some informal coaching/feedback from other participants during play  (“nice lick”, “next time you are doing that, look for…”) 
Informal practice Practice skills on one’s own or with friends/familyPractice skills on one’s own or with band mates
School class: play + practice  Major focus is on play, with some practice of skillsMajor focus is on play, with some practice of skills
School team/group or development program: focused practice  + playregular practice aimed at skill development regular play as an opportunity to exercise skills strong social component with an opportunity to learn from more skilled peersregular practice aimed at skill developmentregular play as an opportunity to exercise skillsstrong social component with an opportunity to learn from more skilled peers
Private lessons: focused practice regular practice and feedback aimed at skill development  regular practice and feedback aimed at skill development  
Master Class
Feedback from outside professionals with emphasis on skill development
Performances/games; competitions/tournamentsdemonstration play with chance to test skills against peersdemonstration play; chance to test skills against peers
Opportunities to guide younger participants:youth coach or ref?
Opportunities to observe others:Games played by peersProfessional gamesYou tube videos of games and skillsMusic played by peers
Professional concertsYou tube videos of concerts and skills

So what might an effective farm system for engineering talent look like?

Key ideas that came out of our discussion include:

  • Programming/curriculum is aligned across grade levels so that students have a chance to build on skills they’ve begun to develop;
  • Students and teachers are able to engage with industry expertise in the context of authentic projects. The easiest way for industry to participate is to have a clear ask– what expertise do you need when to do what. Having something concrete to respond to makes it much easier for a firm to see how well that effort aligns with their own goals for community engagement or talent development.
  • Students are given the opportunity to practice in context. Students need multiple opportunities to run through the engineering design cycle on projects that matter to them.
  • Students have a chance to prototype and work with materials throughout the design process and use that experience to refine their thinking about both the problem at hand and potential solutions.
  • Projects are structured with a strong emphasis on process to help students resist the temptation to jump to a solution before understanding the problem, be willing to explore “riskier” ideas, and to aim for knowledge gain over “the right solution”.
  • Students have informal opportunities to play with engineering in the same ways they might with music or sports.
  • Students build technical skills in math and physics in concert with engineering design. PLTW is not a substitute for a math or physics class, but a complement to it.
  • There is a community of practitioners working together to develop engineering talent. That community includes K-12 educators, university faculty, organizations that provide STEM programming, and industry expertise willing to work with students. Through ongoing collaboration, this community can build and strengthen the relationships that allow its members to find new opportunities for students.

What’s next?

Our next two Collab Labs provide opportunities to explore some of the ideas raised in this session.  The March 12th session is focused on our Career Interviews project. We’re working with UWM and area high schools to prototype a process where students interview folks engaged in interesting work in Milwaukee. Beyond giving students a broader sense of what’s possible to do, we see this collaborative effort as an easy way for students to make an initial connection with folks in industry.

Our April Collab Lab will focus on tapping industry expertise.  This will be an opportunity to take a deeper look at the types of engagements most valuable to educators and students, what makes that engagement worthwhile for both individuals and their employers, and what could help reduce the friction around matching expertise with educators who want to leverage it.

Join us for either or both sessions to share your perspective and ideas.

As we continue to digest what we heard at the session and in conversations that have continued afterwards, we have a couple of other ideas we’re exploring.  Stay tuned or let us know if you’d like to get involved!

One more thing…

One of the folks I connected with as we planned Tuesday’s session was Shannon Smyth, the Youth Technical Director for the North Shore United Soccer Club. Shannon trains youth coaches in the methods recently adopted by US Soccer not just as a way to help students more rapidly develop technical skills, but to build broader participation and the creative talent of players coming up through the system. Shannon sees a lot of parallels between efforts to keep girls engaged in sport and those to keep them engaged in STEM. We shared an overview of the Play-Practice-Play model Shannon uses in advance of the session. You can find that here.

Collab Lab 20: Recap & Notes

At the end of March, we met with a group of group of students from Reagan High School who were working in or looking for internships in STEM fields. We heard three key concerns:

  • Students want a chance to exercise the skills they’ve been developing
    Students want the internship to be a chance to learn
  • Outside a few narrow fields, STEM internship opportunities for high school students are difficult to find
  • If students don’t get a chance to grow and learn, an internship is “just a job”, and those take a lot less effort to find.

In our May session we explored several issues around creating effective STEM internships for high school students. We began the evening with a review of what we heard from the Reagan students, and identified a few additional issues:

  • Internships are a new norm for K-12 schools (which have been focused on college prep)
  • Lack of buy-in around career readiness from industry, schools, and students
  • A reliance on university students for internships may be misinformed, particularly when it comes to computer programming
  • High level of on-going coordination required
  • It’s difficult for companies to identify schools with strong programs (from which to recruit)

Round 1

With this as background, we asked participants to inventory the problems to be addressed, and with the help of a couple of volunteers, sorted those responses into the following groups:

Potential Careers

  • Schools not doing enough to introduce the world of possibilities to students
  • Where do we find the resources to support students who want internships
  • High school students as seniors still only know basic STEM careers (doctor, nurse, engineer)

Logistics

  • Students need summer pay
  • Students do not have transportation
  • Companies not willing to work with MPS schools
  • Companies not looking to the “experts” in the schools to assist w/career experiences
  • Let’s not forget about the MPS HS kids not in Reagan, King, Riverside
  • Internship logistics– not appealing or logistically difficult for minors/teens
  • If internships don’t work, what are other options?
  • Companies moving out of the city
  • Resources & funding both in education & industry
  • Legal barriers– minors, health care specifically
  • Transportation needs
  • Business & school partnership
  • Business support
  • How do we educate employers on the importance of internships
  • How to develop a mutually beneficial work relationship between employer and student
  • AP Java or AP anything can’t be the gatekeeper to these opportunities
  • Not having a dedicated person (100%) at each school focusing on career readiness
  • One day field trips/job shadows get kids excited but are disconnected or not continued
  • Students lose STEM engagement
  • Helping our community understand the world of work has changed

Exposure

  • Exposure to different career fields
  • Exposure to local companies/orgs
  • How can we expose students to career based learning experiences so they know what they want to do/don’t waste time & $ post-secondary?
  • Career based learning experiences in building
  • Off-site experiences
  • Job shadows
  • High schoolers need a way to explore future options
  • Students liking “engineering” but not wanting to further pursue as a career
  • Kids go to college not knowing what they to study/do for a living
  • Convincing students/parents to look at the bigger picture– experience vs test scores
  • Expose kids to advanced topics earlier
  • Internships/work experiences that offer meaningful ways to engage students in school
  • How to increase significant student exposure to careers
  • We want to grow MKE as tech hub but students have little to no tech exposure
  • Real world work experience for teens

Equity/Support

  • Equity– females & underrepresented minorities in IT
  • Kids need significant role models
  • Generate a community culture of learning and support
  • Family involvement (for support & buy-in)
  • Increase talent pipeline
  • Frequent, immediate, continuous check-in and support
  • How do we monitor long-term investment and impact on interns
  • Viewing high schoolers as capable of doing meaningful work
  • To build a common system that supports students and industries
  • Funding to allow access for every kid who wants to experience

Teaching Skills

  • Develop human skills — robot-proof education
  • Teachers not always equipped to assist w/career readiness
  • Pre-employment skills building
  • Shape curriculum to better match the real world
  • Social-emotional skill building
  • Students need employability skills
  • Application of skills vs content knowledge
  • Kids don’t have the soft skills employers seek
  • Ensuring school coursework is relevant– tied to industry competencies
  • Communicating K-12 → post-secondary →industry and adjusting as skills adaptively grow
  • Stop treating tech like a science and more like an art
  • Health care based research projects
  • Project based internship programs– what does this look like in health care?
  • Career readiness after leaving the academic environment

Round 2

We chose three areas to focus on for the remainder of the session, and split into groups to explore each topic.  Here’s what we came up with:

Teaching Skills

Problem:

  • Conflicting priorities of K-12 educators, industry, and curriculum

Driving factors/barriers:

  • Lack of regional coordination
  • Lack of frequent and effective collaboration
  • Culture of STEM education
  • Educators are at capacity

Models:

  • TEALS (Microsoft program to tap industry professionals to launch computer science programs in schools.
  • SafeNet’s high school internship program (company treats program as a donation, students work on tech projects for non-profits)

Parties Involved:

  • Students
  • Educators
  • Industry
  • Parents

 

Exposure

Problem:

  • Students lack exposure to career based learning experiences

Driving factors/barriers:

  • Lack of staff buy-in
    • Curriculum incorporation
    • Knowledge of industry
  • Lack of clear District/Industry connections

Models:

  • Staff PD
    • Industry
    • Curriculum support
  • Look at successful districts/schools

Parties Involved:

  • Top down involvement (administration to teachers)
  • Industry
  • Post secondary educators/administration

Equity/Support

Problem:

  • Lack of equitable & accessible resources allocated to students in need of most support

Barriers: 

  • [Lack of] Social & emotional support
  • [Lack of] School based career support
  • [Lack of] Student to student support
  • [Lack of] Transportation
  • No social capital
  • [Lack of] Role models (who look like them)
  • Achievement gap

Solution:

  • Positive feedback loop of near-peer mentors
  • Partner with corporations and communities
  • Change perception of what is professional

Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space, Brian King for facilitating, and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Tamera Coleman– Internship Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Schools
Matthew Hunt– College & Career Readiness Specialist, New Berlin High School
Ariana Radowicz– University Relations, Rockwell Automation
Molly Schuld– Science Teacher, Ronald Reagan High School
Laura Schmidt, Strategic Advisor to the Superintendent – School District of New Berlin

Collab Lab 20: High School STEM Internships– Creating a culture for talent development

At the end of March, we met with a group of group of students from Reagan High School who were working in or looking for internships in STEM fields.  We heard three key concerns:

  • Students want a chance to exercise the skills they’ve been developing
  • Students want the internship to be a chance to learn
  • Outside a few narrow fields, STEM internship opportunities for high school students are difficult to find

If students don’t get a chance to grow and learn, an internship is “just a job”, and those take a lot less effort to find.

In our May session we’ll dig in to the opportunities for, and barriers to, creating effective STEM internships for high school students–  what it takes to create internship experiences that students value, how we raise the visibility/number of internships available in a broader range of STEM fields, and what does it look like when the goal of an internship program is talent development rather than simply low cost labor.

Come share ideas with your colleagues at public, private, and charter schools from across greater Milwaukee, as well as some folks outside of K12 who offer an interesting perspective on the topic.

Agenda

5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 8:30 Let’s learn from each other.

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!

 

Featured Participants

Among others, you’ll have a chance to talk with:

Tamera Coleman–  Internship Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Schools

Tamera is responsible for the development and implementation of a viable internship program at the district level. Tamera spends time facilitating student learning by assisting students to secure appropriate internships to enhance overall academic experience while learning essential skills. Tamera also initiates and builds partnerships with employers to develop student opportunities for endeavors locally. Tamera is also a proud MPS alumni, a mother of 2 young children, a wife of an educator and a Milwaukee native truly committed to youth empowerment.

 

Matthew Hunt– College & Career Readiness Specialist, New Berlin High School

Matt previously worked as an Account Manager in the Professional Services Division of Aerotek, the largest staffing firm in the country, where he worked with businesses across multiple industries to help them find talent in Accounting/Finance, Supply Chain, Marketing, Customer Service, and Administrative Support. He later served as a School Counselor at New Berlin West for 3 years and took a leadership role with the district’s Career and Service Based Learning Program. During the 2017-18 school year, Matt transitioned into a newly created role as the District’s College and Career Readiness Specialist and now manages Youth Apprenticeship and Internship programs at both New Berlin West and New Berlin Eisenhower high schools.

 

Ariana Radowicz– University Relations, Rockwell Automation

Ariana leads recruitment for Rockwell Automation’s high school internship programs as well as their scholarship/specialty programs. She also participates in ADVANCE, the company’s young professionals employee resource group and works to build a diverse pipeline of students for Rockwell’s early career programs.

 

Molly Schuld– Science Teacher, Ronald Reagan High School

Molly is a science teacher and a personal & professional skills teacher at Ronald Reagan High School. She came to Milwaukee through Teach For America and has now been teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools for four years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Education in Educational Policy and Leadership.

Molly also serves as the Ronald Reagan High School’s NAF Director for the Academy of Health Sciences, which involves connecting students to career-based learning experiences in the community. She secures STEM internship opportunities for Reagan’s upperclassmen in Milwaukee-area. Molly has also developed and continues to lead several programs including Reagan’s International Travel Program, SMART Team, and Girls In Technology Program.

 

Laura Schmidt, Strategic Advisor to the Superintendent – School District of New Berlin

Laura has an MBA (Leadership Studies) from Marquette University. She worked for 15 years for Northwestern Mutual and was responsible for enterprise software, usability testing, and technology research.  She served as the Executive Director of an Education Foundation for 4 years before joining the School District of New Berlin as a consultant.  She represents the Superintendent in local, regional and state efforts designed to support a strong talent pipeline for the benefit of students as well as the state’s economy. She holds a Scaled Agilist certification to inform strategic planning and implementation efforts.

 

Erica Steele– Manager, Workforce Development,  Froedtert Health

Erica Steele is the Manager of Workforce Development at Froedtert Health focused on driving innovative workforce strategies internally and externally to grow and diversify the healthcare talent pipeline to meet current and future industry needs. This includes collaborating and partnering with educational institutions, workforce agencies, community based organizations,  internal stakeholders, and others to identify, engage, train and create pathways for talent to enter and advance in the healthcare field. She provides subject matter expertise on the topics of workforce development, education/training, program development and management, volunteer management, public speaking and fund development.