Wake County – Exploring STEM Careers
AWARD YEAR: 2019
WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
DIRECTOR: ANGIE WRIGHT - AWRIGHT@WCPSS.NET
SENIOR DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GRANTS AND STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT
PROJECT TITLE: EXPLORING STEM CAREERS
Exploring STEM Careers Executive Summary Six STEM related high school Career Academies in the Wake County Public School System will each provide cohorts of 12 rising 8th grade students Exploring STEM Careers, a STEM enrichment opportunity that includes annual summer camps and offsite learning experiences during the school year. Career Development Coordinators and student interns will mentor the 8th graders and support them as they engage in hands-on, inquiry-based science, accessing relevant and rigorous science curriculum, increasing their achievement in science disciplines, nurturing their enthusiasm for science, and acquainting them with science career opportunities.
While all six camps will be given the same real world challenge, specific STEM activities will be related to the focus of each respective Career Academy. For example, students attending the camp at a biomedical Career Academy may focus on a project related to nutrition and disease, while those at an engineering/advanced manufacturing Career Academy might focus on an assistive device or toy. Camp activities will involve hands-on, inquiry-based science learning related to Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Biomedical Science, Engineering, and Information Technology and Cybersecurity. Students will employ the scientific method as they gather data, test an idea, analyze and document findings, and revise and reflect on their work through the use of digital portfolios.
This project will build students’ soft and scientific skills through simulating real world practices. They will experience how teams work, how projects are efficiently managed, practice effective ways to communicate, and how to apply creativity and critical thinking to solve problems. They will learn the engineering design process and gain insight about the relevance of STEM knowledge and skills in addressing real world challenges. This experience will also give them a look into the world of learning and career possibilities available to them through the Career Academies. A secondary objective of the project is that students will be motivated to apply to their high school’s Career Academy, where they will receive intensive ongoing support in preparing for a STEM career.
Exploring STEM Careers will culminate with a showcase event. Campers from each of the Career Academies will come together with their peers to share their design solutions with each other, parents, Career Academy advisory board members, and other professionals from partnering organizations. This will give students the opportunity to practice communicating complex concepts and ideas, and teach them about effectively conveying their ideas to an audience. The Showcase will give parents an opportunity to celebrate their child’s work, to learn about Career Academy opportunities available to their child, and gain ideas on why and how they can encourage their child to pursue career opportunities in STEM fields.