Want a High Tech Job or STEM Career? Think Manufacturing!

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STEM is more than a buzz word; it is a new way of thinking about learning and careers.  There are many new ideas for careers in the field of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and many new courses and programs.  Bio-Inspired Robotics, Geo Science Modeling, Electro Optics, Submarine Design . . . these ideas have a “sexy” appeal,

Beyond the college and university programs, there are growing STEM opportunities in high tech careers for our non-college bound students as well.  In Goochland, we believe in college and career ready pathways.  We encourage students to try and explore new options; a list of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses tells some of this story.

Our CTE Director, Bruce Watson, and I recently met with the Virginia Manufacturers Association to talk about our new CTE offerings and our goals for STEM in Goochland Schools. We are excited about the future and the opportunities to partner with this association to increase awareness and to provide opportunities for students in manufacturing.

One remaining concern is the perception both students and their parents have about manufacturing.  We want to address this!  Today, manufacturing is a high tech operation with little to do with the old concepts of an assembly line and a monotonous job of the past.

This clip from the Today Show helps explain the message about today’s manufacturing. As we grow programs for Goochland High School, we hope to find a way to explain and to encourage students and parents to discover the many opportunities in manufacturing.

Low Retention Rate in STEM Majors?

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Dr. Richard Carchman, an active member of  the Goochland Public Schools STEM advisory committee, posed the question, why a low retention rate in STEM majors?  His question is based on an article Low Retention Rate in Stem Majors Prompts Study.

This is a good question for America but specifically for Goochland County Public Schools.

The answer may come from this research: “A new study being conducted by researchers from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the University of  Colorado Boulder will attempt to answer this question and look at what can be done to encourage more students to remain in  those fields.”

We need to look for some answers from this study.  Even without this research, good preparation from our K-12 schools remains a wonderful start.  I applaud the support of STEM by our Goochland School Board with the hiring of a STEM focused CTE director, Bruce Watson, and an active STEM advisory committee adopted by them last year. Our efforts in the secondary schools continues to be part of a larger emphasis on engagement and 21st Century skills.  John Hendron, our supervisor of instructional technology, addressed this at an advisory meeting last year by showing what we are doing with project based learning such as our G21 initiative.  We need to continue our exploration for answers to Dr. Carchman’s inquiry while we seek ways to inspire students to follow their intellectual curiosity.  
 
Additionally, I suspect from my personal experience with two daughters graduating from college in STEM areas, that an increased emphasis on aiding students with the rising cost of education will help. By offering more scholarships and assistance like Pell Grants and by finding ways to address the massive school loan debt issue, Americans can encourage students to enter and stay in expensive STEM related fields. The Goochland Educational Foundation (GEF) that meets tonight at 6:30 p.m. at our school board office is committed to providing more scholarship opportunities.  This is another exciting local response.

GHS named as Microsoft IT Academy

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GHS has been approved and officially registered as a Microsoft IT Academy as part of the Governor’s IT initiative. Ms. Carol Washburn and the business department at GHS will work collaboratively to take advantage of over 200 multimedia courses, lesson pans, student projects and test bank items that will promote students’ understanding of the exciting and rapidly growing field of Internet Technology.