Education – Investing in our Future – Curriculum Development
This is the second installment in my Education – Investing in our Future series. You can read the first post here. I also hope to set the tone throughout this series by providing you with statistics and infographics. Here are the lowlights statistics of the week:
- Every year, 1.2 Million students drop out of school (works out to 7,000 per day).
- These dropout students are 8x more likely to go to prison, will earn less than half as much as college graduates, and are not even eligible for 90% of new jobs.
- When compared to other countries’ college readiness, the United States currently ranks 24th in Math, 21st in Science and 15th in Literacy
Now, let’s get back to the purpose of this series – coming up with solutions versus wallowing in self-pity about our education system. The Colorado Technology Association strongly believes that industry is a crucial part of the solution. We are starting to work with several of the school districts in Colorado, and today’s focus will be on a Curriculum Development exercise we did with the Adams 12 Stem Magnet Lab School. I was honored to be part of the exercise, and I am humbled to see how that school’s administration drives success with creativity, collaboration, and good ole fashioned work ethic.
The goal of this Curriculum Development exercise was to come up with project-based learning opportunities. In fact, we even brainstormed project ideas that could be used across several grade levels. The scope would vary based upon the grade level. Here were some of my favorites from this exercise:
- Mow-Down or Mend?
I loved this idea because I appreciate seeing it first hand from the work done by Larimer Associates with properties like Larimer Square. The project definition was this: If you have an old, run-down property, do you renovate it? Or do you “mow it down” in favor of a strip mall or multi-tenant residential dwelling?
You could divide the students into project teams. Younger students could be tasked with drawing a renovated building versus drawing a new, shiny shopping center. Older students could be tasked with (1) researching historical significance of the building as well as other “gentrification projects”, (2) working within a budget to restore the building and bring it up to modern codes, (3) evaluating the social impact of gentrification projects, and (4) estimating the job creation differential between boutique shops versus large name brand retailers.
- Gotta Pay to Play
Some of these STEM schools are brand new facilities servicing the K-12 grade levels. The project definition was this: Here is your budget. You have no playground. Design your playground while staying within budget.
The same team approach would apply to this project, and tasks could vary by age group. I still like the younger kids to be tasked with drawing their ideal playgrounds, and they could be guided with instructions on providing a variety of play areas, tables, and perhaps even shade and landscaping. Instructors could still constrain them to stay within budget. Older kids could be tasked with preparing student surveys to get input regarding the desired play equipment. They could also research the pricing for different play apparatus and materials of construction as well as regulations regarding crash zones and safety codes. Perhaps these older kids could even be constrained by schedule, so they could learn basic project planning.
- Transportation Time Travelogue
The attendees at this curriculum development exercise recognized that several of the students would be bused over long distances. Project definition: Document your travels.
The goal is to reward the artists, the poets, the videographers and the reporters for documenting their long travels. Reward “mixed content” creativity regarding the use of video, photography, interviews, poetry and sketches.
Outstanding ideas came from this curriculum development exercise. Volunteers could have stopped there and “called it a day”. Put a check mark next to the “volunteer” bucket list item! However, the creativity of this event generated an excitement to take it to the next level. Several of these attendees continue to cycle through the Adams 12 classrooms as guest speakers and panel members for project reviews. And that is where we will truly make a difference, folks!
Please use the comment section below as an opportunity to crowd-source similar project ideas. Future posts in this series will include an interview with those creative Adams 12 administrators. I will also provide more details around “projects/demos in a box” where the CTA Education Committee is looking for repeatable solutions to take into the classrooms and get kids excited about STEM, education and the world around them!
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes…
A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.” — Forest Witcraft