How Arduino Education helped educator James Jones boost students’ 21st century skills and robotics knowledge across 23 middle schools in Orlando, Florida.
More and more teachers face the difficulty of instilling the right skills and knowledge, as well as a flexible mindset, that better prepare their students for future career opportunities.
“Today, students need to be thinking about careers in middle school,” Jones said. “If students wait until they are juniors or seniors in high school to decide, their options are already getting slim. Finding a direction in middle school allows for research, job shadowing, and internships in high school. This will translate into more jobs that require more of these skills as part of the daily workplace. This way they know what a career really looks like, instead of jumping into a job and finding out that they are miserable.”
The challenge: learning about careers you love at a young age
Many countries have recently approved changes in their curricula and education systems to allow earlier access to technology in the classroom. In Finland, technology education is not a separate subject but a cross-curricular, interdisciplinary topic studied within various classes. In Florida, the Workforce Education law requires that students explore their career options during grades 6-8, at ages 12 to 14.
How Arduino Education helped
Jones spent last summer looking for a solution to assist him the following semester. He wanted to think big and reach as many schools as possible in Orange County, so he applied for and won the Title IV grant through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) program. He used the grant to fund 23 middle schools and chose Arduino Education’s products, CTC GO! Core Module and the Arduino Starter Kit, to improve students’ robotics, programming, and coding skills.
“This past summer we ran two weeks of camps for rising eighth-graders. It was a transition camp at our feeder high school,” Jones said. As an educator, he believes his students should not leave school with only basic knowledge of robotics and STEAM but a deeper and more concrete experience of real-world problem-solving. “More and more personal electronics have fewer buttons and more programming,” Jones said.
Jones asked Pitsco Education — an official Arduino Education Partner — for extra support during his teaching experience. Pitsco “teaches both coding and circuitry concepts in a real-world manner. Along the way, students encounter numerous careers which might spark their interest in pursuing an occupation they hadn’t considered before. A few of the endless possibilities open to students include engineering and design in any field (computer science, electricity, chemistry, mechanics), programming, and even costuming and music production.”
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