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Advantages of Hybrid Learning in Post-Secondary Classrooms

Philip Przybyszewski, Project Coordinator for the Advanced Manufacturing Program at Manchester Community College talks about the advantages of Intelitek curriculum.

With funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant, the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) began creating training programs across NH to develop the workforce of the future for advanced manufacturing.

Philip Przybyszewski, Project Coordinator for the Advanced Manufacturing Program at Manchester Community College (MCC), led the effort to build a program that would deliver the relevant skills for New Hampshire’s workforce. That included suitable equipment and curriculum that could serve entrants from various backgrounds. To meet the demands of the grant, the program would also have to be accessible for trainees with a wide range of schedules.

The resulting certificate and associate degree programs implement a hybrid learning approach featuring Intelitek solutions. In the video below, Phil talks about the advantages hybrid learning brings to the unique challenges of the post-secondary classroom.

Hear Phil


The CTSO Model for STEM Programs

SkillsUSA AMT Competition

The Role of Career and Technical Student Organizations in Providing STEM Skills

Last week the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) released CTE Is Your STEM Strategy, a study of the value of CTE programs as the foundation for an overall STEM strategy.

One specific element the study highlights is Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). As the report mentions:

“CTSOs, such as SkillsUSA provide skills-based competitions for students…based largely on students’ abilities to work individually or in teams to solve problems and present projects to judges from industry and education. …They clearly support student mastery of the “STEM competencies,” as many problem- or project-based learning experiences do.”

In this way, CTSOs deliver some of the most important elements for successful STEM programs: engaging industry to guide the delivery of relevant skills and offering “true contextualized learning within the context of a specific industry or career pathway”.

As Julie Kantor of STEMConnector wrote recently in the Huffington Post: “The conference is filled also with corporations smart enough to get in the door early and meet the best and brightest of our country. These kids all come out of high school with a TANGIBLE SKILL.”

One example of success came in the 2013 SkillsUSA competition. Girls from Spaulding High School in Rochester, New Hampshire clinched gold at the National SkillsUSA Competition in Missouri, earning the title as the first all-female team to win the competition. The trio competed against high school students from all 49 other U.S. states to take home the medal in Automated Manufacturing Technology contest, which evaluates teams for employment in the integrated manufacturing technology fields of computer aided drafting/design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerical controlled machining (CNC). Team member Jackie McNally constructed the parts’ geometry in CAD, while Naomie Clark, the CAM operator, generated the tool paths and Ali Trueworthy was responsible for CNC set-up and machining.

The Rochester girls spent two years in STEM classes at the Richard W. Creteau Regional Technology Center under teacher and adviser David Foote. This academic program combined with the experiences in SkillsUSA helped the succeed in this year’s national competition. They insist that the key to their success is not just the technical skills, but collaboration — working together rather than as separate contributors.

All three girls are now pursuing engineering degrees – an excellent outcome that any STEM program would be proud to achieve!

This is just one example among the 5,900 students who competed in the 2013 SkillsUSA nationals! All of these participants no doubt obtained an enhanced educational experience.

Many new STEM initiatives are gaining momentum and funding, but lacking guidance at the implementation stage. Proven and successful CTSOs like SKillsUSA provide an excellent model to follow. Participation bolsters interest in STEM, while delivering relevant technical skills as well as leadership and problem-solving skills so valuable in any career field!


ACTE Wrap-up

Thanks for a great ACTE experience!

Intelitek's team at ACTE

CareerTech VISION 2013 was a great success!

Thanks to all who visited us at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2013 event! Your positive response to the many changes happening at Intelitek reinforces our excitement for the coming year!

Certifications

The availability of portable certifications has opened up new possibilities for our programs. To learn more about these new resources visit the links below:

 

Flexible Manufacturing Cart

Motoman integrated vision cart

We are excited about the potential for the integrated Motoman robotic vision system. This system demonstrates our unique capability to work with industrial partners to bring flexible solutions to the classroom that will deliver real-world skills.

New Marketing Resources

Intelitek's 2014 product catalog

We rolled out Intelitek’s first product catalog that includes the entire portfolio of products available globally. The catalog is always available online anywhere anytime:

Product Catalog

You can always find the link in the footer of our website.
More resources are also available on our Resources and Downloads page.

We look forward to the coming year! We expect great things to happen for career and technical education!


Ignite Interest in Math and the Sciences

How Teachers Can Ignite Interest in Math and the Sciences

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are fields that fuel innovation. With this in mind, it is undeniable that the world of academia needs knowledgeable and passionate educators that inspire students’ interest in these subjects. Here are a few tips for effective teachers of STEM classes to ensure that current and future generations of students maintain interest in pursuing educations in the sciences and mathematics.

Bring Enthusiasm to the Classroom

Perhaps the greatest contribution that a teacher can make to his or her students is changing the way they view learning. A teacher may not be able to spur interest in the sciences for every child in every class, but it shouldn’t be for lack of trying. Remember to maintain an enthusiastic and knowledgeable presence in the classroom, so that you can pass your passion on to students. If subjects are conspicuously fascinating to you, students will be able to identify with this fascination and, similarly, express it. It’s important to stay up to date with research and news so that you can incorporate practical uses for the material you teach. Students want to know the meaning behind the concepts they’re learning—how are these applicable to the world around them?

Don’t Remove the Mystery

Much of the apprehension surrounding science and mathematics is caused by students’ hesitancy to explore the unknown and the complex. While students should be taught not to be intimidated by the sciences, this doesn’t necessarily mean they should be given the impression that every curiosity has a proven theory or explanation to back it. Rather, be honest about things that don’t. One of the most common mistakes that teachers of math and science make is presenting only concrete answers and tangible facts. Removing all of the curiosity takes away some STEM subjects’ appeal—the mystery is part of the captivation. Instead, make sure students recognize that certain phenomena aren’t clear-cut and there won’t always be a single correct answer to any one occurrence or formula or oddity. Science is a process of exploring, so encourage students to ask questions about what they’re learning in order to give them the best chance at becoming sincerely interested in classroom material. Ideally, students will begin seeking answers because they want to discover the them for themselves.

Be as Hands-On as Possible

A good teacher makes analogies and tries to make formulas or equations relatable to the real world. Teach with graphics, sounds, and interactive assignments because kids learn best when they can touch, build, and explore by themselves with proper encouragement and support to back them. Try to make science fun by presenting different ideas and concepts like a puzzle that gets easier with practice. When a student finally grasps a difficult concept or discovers something new independently, there is a much better likelihood that this knowledge will truly be learned and not simply stored. In his article Facilitating Teaching and Learning Across STEM Fields, James Ejiwale of Jackson State advises STEM educators to engage students in “motivational activities that integrate the curriculum to promote ‘hands-on’ and other related experiences that would be needed to help solve problems as they relate to their environments.” With this approach, students will gain the self-esteem to help others in the classroom and explain their new knowledge to their peers in a unique way.

Encourage Extracurricular Involvement

It is no secret that all learning cannot be done in the classroom. Furthermore, when students are passionate about a subject, the little time they can devote to it during school isn’t enough to make it a hobby. Encourage kids to get involved in extracurricular STEM activities, groups, and clubs. Let them know that there are chances to explore science and mathematics interactively outside of what they are learning in class. Provide students with information about robotics competitions and Science and Math Olympiads programs. The more exposure students have to extracurricular STEM opportunities, the better their chances of turning an interest into a passion.

Incorporate Teamwork

Many students think they’re alone when it comes to science and math; they believe that they’re the only ones who aren’t grasping the more difficult concepts. Group work helps students to talk about what they don’t comprehend with their peers. With the subsequent realization that others might be struggling as well, students working in groups are more confident asking teachers and professors for assistance. Teamwork emboldens students to bounce ideas off of one another and allows them to inspect and understand things from a multitude of angles. Most importantly, when students see peers interested in learning, they’ll want to contribute and join the crowd.


Visit us at ACTE in Las Vegas!

We are looking forward to exhibiting at the ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2013! We’ll have great news about our latest initiatives in certifications for manufacturing and robotics technicians! We’ll also be demonstrating the ProMill 8000, with an emphasis on how the simulation capabilities of this versatile machine can impact the effectiveness of your advanced manufacturing classroom.

Come visit us in Booth #501 and take a robot for a drive on our VEX competition field or play a game of craps with our FMS while you are there!


Event details:

Booth: #501
Dates: December 5-6, 2013

ACTE CareerTech VISION 2013
CareerTech VISION 2013
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV USA
http://www.acteonline.org


Women in STEM Occupations: Still Growing!

U.S. Report shows no decline in female participation in STEM workforce

The US Census Bureau report released in early September contained encouraging news – the growth of women in the the STEM workforce continues! The proportion of women in STEM increased from 23% in 1990 to 26% in 2011. No doubt all would love to see higher rates of growth, we are still moving in the right direction, despite the challenges of image, lack of mentors, and prevailing attitudes, to name just a few.

With renewed efforts to open up more opportunities for women and change the perception of STEM careers, there is great potential to see the participation rate increase in the years ahead.

Female enrollment in STEM

In nearly all other STEM fields, women have seen either a firm hold or steady increase in numbers since 1990. Additionally, the amount of women receiving advanced degrees in STEM is encouraging. In biological sciences, more than half of the individuals receiving advanced degrees are women, and women make up almost half of science and engineering graduates.

The US Office of Science and Technology Policy have more encouraging figures about the rewards available for girls pursuing STEM education: higher pay, exciting work and the ability to make a difference in the world around them.

Women in STEM earn 33 percent more

Possibly the most encouraging sign we see are the great results in the classroom and STEM programs. As STEM programs mature and classroom methodologies improve, girls are discovering the potential and accomplishing great things– just ask the Rochester, NH, girls who earned gold in Automated Manufacturing Technology at the SkillsUSA national competition!

SkillsUSA AMT Gold winners

Exciting achievements by great role models like these will be a great impetus for girls to consider the rewarding possibilities in STEM!


Intelitek and Boy Scouts Partner to Promote STEM Education

  • Using EasyC for the Boy Scouts Programming Merit Badge
  • Students using EasyC to complete Programming Badge

New Robotic Programming Merit Badge generates a groundswell of excitement for STEM!

With the motto “Be Prepared”, Boy Scouts of America are devoted to helping youths become tomorrow’s leaders. Part of that effort includes over 130 Merit Badges that Scouts can earn in topics from business to backpacking. Confirming the trend that new skills are required for success in tomorrow’s world, one of the newest available badges is the Programming badge, preparing boys for careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“We view STEM as an essential survival skill in the 21st century.”

“Last century, camping was an essential survival skill,” noted Matt Myers, of the Boy Scouts of America STEM initiative, “We view STEM as an essential survival skill in the 21st century.” The Boy Scouts of America introduced the new badge that allows scouts to learn how programming makes digital devices useful and fun, thus generating more interest in STEM among youths. To earn the badge, scouts write three programs in three programming languages for three different industrial applications, including the web, games, embedded controls, factory automation, and more. This allows the scouts to see how real programming is used in the workplace.

Boy Scouts Programming Badge

At the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, the response to the Programming Badge revealed the untapped interest in STEM fields. Over 800 scouts completed the programming portion of the badge – the only merit badge that had a line of kids waiting to get in all day long! Scouts from 49 of the 50 states and from overseas waited as long as 2 to 3 hours to work on the programming badge, which also has requirements in the areas of Safety, History and Careers. In the booth at the Jamboree scouts programmed VEX robotics arms using Intelitek’s easyC programming software.

This initiative demonstrates the high demand for robotics skills among youths. It also shows the success that can be had when educational opportunities are made available to youths: increased enthusiasm and awareness of opportunities in STEM. These are key to fulfilling students’ potential and opening up new pathways to career and lifelong success!

Learn more about the Programming merit badge!


The Limitless Rewards of STEM Education

The value of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is evident: our future is in its hands. STEM education creates new generations of critical thinkers, scientifically literate individuals, and driven innovators. STEM-related occupations are at the forefront of innovation and technological advancement, and consequently, these jobs are arguably the most closely bound to a country’s economic growth and sustainability. STEM education across the globe is in higher demand now than ever, and it is vital that STEM programs receive the attention and support that they deserve.

Georgetown University STEM report

This point is bolstered by a 2011 study by Georgetown University asserting that there is a growing demand for STEM talent across a platform of all occupations and fields of study, not just the traditional or “native” STEM industries. Technological advances have called for “more skilled” members of every profession, meaning that STEM education is now often necessary for basic competency. In fact, more non-STEM occupations are seeking students who have obtained STEM skills, so the desirability of individuals with solid STEM proficiency is rapidly increasing.

Moreover, the number of STEM jobs continues to grow worldwide. It is projected that the economic share of these occupations will grow to 5 percent, creating more than a million new jobs by the year 2018 in the U.S. alone. Programs that target both the most elite and highest-performing STEM students as well as those whose talents lie less conspicuously in STEM areas are best positioned to meet this growing demand. By establishing broad-reaching solutions that foster interest in STEM occupations we support universal enrichment and advancement. If we commit to this mission, our world is certain to thank us in return.


Survey Points to Growth in STEM Education Budgets!

Congratulations to our prize winners who participated in our recent survey on the state of STEM education in the USA!

  • iPad winner: Mike Weaver
  • iPod winner: Rick Vaughn
  • iTunes winners: Richard Hill, Tammy Wesson

The survey responses point to encouraging trends in STEM education:

45% of respondents expect their budget for STEM programs to increase.

This is great news! Despite challenging times for many states and districts, STEM education is growing. Only 25% responded that their budgets were shrinking. We know that any growth in this sector is only due to the hard work of those supporting and advocating for STEM – teachers, administrators, public officials, as well as student organizations, parents, mentors and volunteers. We salute all of you!

The fastest growing STEM education program is green technology.

Programs related to alternative energy, sustainability, wind, solar and other green economy topics are on the rise, when measured by definite plans to establish new curriculum. This is more good news! The shortage of skilled workers for the critical green economy is well-documented. Now more students will have the opportunity to develop skills and pursue rewarding, sustainable careers thanks to these new programs. We see this as an example of the education community stepping up to the challenge to provide in-demand skills for tomorrow’s world. We may have a ways to go, but we are on our way!

The most important criteria for selecting new equipment for STEM labs is quality of the equipment.

The quality of the lab equipment directly affects the sustainability of a STEM program. Poor quality equipment can undermine the vigorous efforts it takes to get STEM programs off the ground and engage students. High quality equipment can help keep programs thriving and effective. Our survey respondents reflected this fact by consistently rating quality as the most important factor when selecting equipment.

Thanks again to all who took our survey and congratulations to our winners!


VEX World Champion Interview: Joshua Wade

One of the most successful Vex Robotics Competition teams ever has a unique aspect – it has only one member. Joshua Wade, from Orwell, OH, the sole member of Team 1103, went on to become 2010 Vex Robotics Programming Skills Challenge World Champion and the 2011 Vex Robotics National Champion.

What helped Josh become so successful? One of the tools in Joshua’s arsenal was easyC, Intelitek’s intuitive robotic programming software. With it he accomplished some exceptional robotic programming feats. We asked Josh to give us his perspective on his accomplishments.

What got you interested in VEX Robotics?
Even at a very young age, I had an interest in robotics and engineering. In 2006, when I was 12 years old, my Dad bought me an original VEX starter kit for Christmas. I can say without a doubt that it was the best Christmas present I ever received. Over the next few years I received several additional VEX kits and spent a great deal of time programming the hobbyist robots that I designed.

How did you develop your programming skills?
When I was 14, having worked with VEX robots for about a year, I was introduced to programming VEX robots. At that time, programming in general was completely new to me. I found easyC to be very user-friendly and quickly learned how to write basic programs. Though programming always came very naturally to me, I spent a great deal of time working with easyC before I was able to write more advanced programs.

How did you come up with your design? What were some other ideas you had?
Before starting on my 2010-2011 robot, I spent many long hours at the drawing board considering various design concepts. Early on I knew that I wanted a purely-vertical lifting mechanism. I did consider using a scissor
lift but later rejected that idea in favor of the chained linear slide lift that I had thought of following the 2010 VRC World Championships.

Because I was very interested in the two skills challenges, particularly the Programming Skills, a claw seemed like the best choice for actually manipulating the tubes. The inspiration for the passive high hanging mechanism actually came from rock climbing equipment. I needed a hook that would easily attach to the side of the Ladder even if the base of the robot was imperfectly positioned. The idea to tilt the lift mechanism using pneumatic pistons came after seeing a similar tilting mechanism on a forklift.

How much time did you spend working on your robot?
I began building my VEX Round Up robot in August of 2010. Throughout the competition season I worked 30-40 hours a week building, programming and practicing with the robot. By April of 2011, I had logged roughly 1200 hours.

What are your plans for the future?
In college I would like to take mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. Right now I am considering Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. After college I plan to go into robotics.

As the sole member of one of the most successful VRC teams ever, what advice do you have for other students who participate in the program?
I feel that the most important advice I can give to another is to work hard and be committed. To quote Thomas Edison, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

***
Team 1103 is a great example of the unlimited potential students have when engaged and motivated by their educational environment. Joshua’s success also shows that competitive robotics is an excellent way to provide that environment for more students!


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