Some of the most in-demand jobs in central Ohio are in computer science or IT. Anne Trachsel, a teacher at Reynoldsburg City Schools, is making sure her students are ready in more ways than one for these jobs.
“Companies tell us they’re looking for skills in IT, digital and computer sciences,” explains Trachsel, who teaches science and computer science as part of Reynoldsburg High School eSTEM Academy’s digital pathway. “In addition, our students are understanding how to learn and how to collaborate. That’s as valuable to the companies and business partners as knowing how to use a particular application.”
The digital pathway is financed this year by an Ohio Straight A Fund grant shared by 15 central Ohio school districts. While Trachsel says the digital pathway started at eSTEM Academy last year, this is the first year students, who demonstrate they are ready, can enroll for dual credit from the high school and either Columbus State Community College or Harrison College.
“Students are putting their new knowledge to work using real-world scenarios,” Trachsel says. One group of students is preparing digital capstone projects demonstrating online crowdfunding techniques. Each of the students completed internships with Tony Reynolds, founder and CEO of A KickIn Crowd, and have continued to work with the crowdfunding company to develop their own campaigns. Those campaigns, which include funding a new soccer scoreboard and financing new sheet music for the orchestra, could recently be found on A KickIn Crowd’s website alongside those of other entrepreneurial hopefuls.
“One group's project is introducing a new flavor of breakfast pastry,” Trachsel adds. “Another wants to manage a lawnmower racing team. They’ve really used some creativity, and they’re having fun.”
Some students are learning the full applications of Microsoft’s Office Suite – Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access. As a final project, Trachsel asked those students to create a business situation and to present it using all four applications.
“They learned a lot about the challenges that are involved,” she says. “I wanted them to learn the process and get experience working together.”
According to Trachsel, digital is the second most popular pathway at the school and it is growing. She expects the growth to continue as new opportunities, such as programming classes, are folded into the pathway. “One key is to give freshmen exposure to digital before they choose a pathway,” she says. Freshmen now get some of that experience in their “Introduction to Engineering.” Next year, students will get real-world experiences through a coding course as a result of a partnership with Code.org.
“In the end, the skills students are learning will stay with them no matter what career they choose,” she concludes. “Learning to work together with people who are different from you is one of the most valuable things we teach. A lot of classes in the digital pathway, and in all of our pathways, emphasize collaboration and how to learn.”
For more information about the pathways at Reynoldsburg City Schools, visit the district’s website.
When it comes to students understanding how to use the latest technology in 3-D printing for real-world application, New Albany Plain Local Schools sophomore Aaron Westbrook gets it. Using the equipment and the skills he learned in New Albany’s Fab Lab, he has designed a functional and operational prosthetic hand. Read the full details of his story in a recent article featured in the ThisWeek New Albany newspaper.
In other news, Columbus City Schools and Reynoldsburg City Schools were the focus on Radio One’s recent broadcasts: “Eye on the Community” and “Any Given Sunday.” Principals from each district talked about how Innovation Generation courses in their schools are giving students a head start in college and career planning – while students from both districts shared how excited they are to participate in courses offered in their respective districts.
Students at Marysville Early College High School are digging into courses and skills that not only interest them, but also prepare them for their future. Made possible by a grant from the Ohio’s Straight A Fund, the high school is providing students with a STEM-focused, inquiry-based curriculum that engages students in real-world experiences.
“The pathways are preparing students for college and careers after high school,” says Ashley Thompson, welding teacher, Marysville Early College High School. “Students are building critical thinking skills that apply math, science and English acumen, and specific technical skills to help solve problems,” she adds. “Students are learning to take a problem they didn't know how to solve and use a logical, systematic, step-by-step approach to address the issues. They see the problem as a challenge they can meet, rather than as a roadblock.”
Combining hands-on experience with early exposure to career skills that interest them, Marysville students have the opportunity to earn college credits and career credentials while still in high school, which can help them achieve their future goals.
Charsey Johnson, a freshman at Marysville Early College High School, recognizes the application of the skills she’s learning in her information technology courses. “I can see the technology I use every day come to life and how it works, and think that I can do that myself,” she says. “There are so many different jobs in this field.”
With future possibilities in reach, Marysville students are learning by exploring their interests and gaining perspective on how those interests can translate into career success. Watch this video to learn more.
School districts participating in Innovation Generation have a number of resources available to help counselors, teachers and others communicate about the initiative. All the materials can be customized to individual districts. These include:
To request any of these materials, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Innovation Generation
Innovation Generation, a collaboration of 15 central Ohio school districts, is made possible by a $14.4 million Ohio Straight A Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Education. Innovation Generation gives students options to gain credentials AND earn college credits while still in high school. Each participating district tailors courses to meet the unique needs of its community and students, while highlighting the rewarding careers available in advanced manufacturing/robotics, business logistics, health care, or IT, some of the region’s fastest growing and most important industries.