Westfield Vocational Technical High School transformed traditional vocational education, teaching 21st century skills and providing STEM opportunities for students. In the process they attained an amazing 0% drop-out rate and a remarkable 92.7% graduation rate, with many of the students going directly into jobs.
This article looks at combining vocational and technical education with project-based STEM instruction; how it is gaining traction and showing some remarkable results.
Vocational Schools and Project Based Learning
This video looks at Westfield Vocational High School and shows how their teachers and students are reinventing vocational education to be relevant for today's students. This school is changing the stigma around vocational schools, giving students over 1,000 hours of work experience and the possibility of getting meaningful work immediately after graduating high school.
- YouTube URL
The TeachEngineering digital library, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a collaborative project with over 55 contributing organizations and a cadre of volunteer teachers and engineers funding. It provides educators in grades K-12 with free access to a growing set of activities, lessons, units and living labs.
One of their focus is Maker Challenges – teacher-prompted, open-ended project ideas and problems for students to solve in a self-directed, thinking-with-their-hands way. Challenges include Creative Crash Test Cars, Crutches Book Carrier, T-Shirt Launcher, and Snazzy Sneakers.
The importance of STEM is not restricted to the U.S.
This resource, sponsored by a consortium of Queensland Universities, provides a range of high quality programs and initiatives designed to build STEM capacity across the state of Queensland, Australia.
It includes an excellent answer to the question "Why STEM?" and an extensive resource section with downloadable posters and occupation profiles.
Teachers TryScience provides free lessons, along with teaching strategies and resources, designed to spark students' interest in STEM. The site features collaboration tools to enable teachers to discuss and share effective instructional practices.
One focus of this site is providing resources & options for students who are physically challenged, so that everyone can benefit from hands-on experiential learning.
Underwriters Laboratories' XplorLabs is a free resource designed to encourage students to "solve through science." Aimed at middle school students, the site uses interactive videos, instructional experiences, hands-on classroom activities, and creative classroom challenges to show they can solve real problems and help create innovative solutions for a safer world.
The Arizona STEM Network, part of Science Foundation Arizona, is an example of groups and organizations throughout the U.S. encouraging and providing resources for STEM education.
What organizations are active in your area?
The U.S. Department of Education has a wide variety of STEM resources and grants available.
Other agencies like the Department of Energy have also indexed STEM Education resources. You can filter the list by grade level and subject area.
Look to sites like STEM Grants for information on educational grants for K-12 and educational non-profits.
Other sources for funding and support can be found by contacting your local tech companies and maker spaces.
WestEd offers professional development, evaluation, research, coaching, and assessment development in all STEM subjects. Their resources include teacher professional development and classroom lessons to help students, address and overcome common misconceptions, and develop academic language.
Related Topics ...
Other Areas To Check Out...
• Lesson Plans and Projects
• Corporate Resources
• Marine Worlds
• Networks for Teachers By Teachers (sampler)
• Assessment of Hands-On Elementary Science Projects
• Clearinghouses and Collaboratives