Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time at Robert Blue Middle School in Eagle Grove, observing classrooms and checking out what they’ve got going on prior to getting their Chromebooks. I found that they’ve done an awesome job of building a need for their devices, they have teachers who are definitely ready to take off, and their kids are pumped and ready to go. And as I walked down the hallway I found this room:
This is the Careers Lab. Every school needs a place like this! I remember Dows CSD had one several years ago, but I hadn’t seen one since visiting theirs. In the Careers Lab students are programming robots, working with animation and graphic design, and building with CAD systems. But it’s not just high tech. In the first photo, you see a module where students have to install a door knob and do some basic plumbing, and on the opposite wall (not pictured) the students are composting with a barrel full of worms that they feed! The second picture is a lab where students get to stain clothes and try out different cleaning methods, and opposite this they have a stove, where I watched students making both sugar cookies and homemade spaghetti sauce, right near the microwave module with kids learning at about wattage.
Not everyone has all these high tech gadgets, but are you giving your learners opportunities to find their passions in life that include some of these experiences? Google Sketch-Up is free! Programming software like Scratch and apps like Hopscotch (for younger kids) are readily available (and ALSO FREE!), and you can use them with gadgets like Raspberry Pi that are less than $50 – shipped!. K’Nex sets and robotics sets are cheap and a great place to start building and engineering. Stop motion apps and photo editing apps and software are… you guessed it, FREE! How could you recreate some of these awesome opportunities? Is it in the classroom? Is it part of a genius hour setup?
Once you have decided how you will offer these opportunities, I recommend doing what Eagle Grove does, and post suggestions for career paths for students next to the module – or share them verbally or virtually with students. Next to each experience that the students participate in is a list of a half dozen or more career paths that might use those types of skills. It’s never too early to start finding and developing your passions!