Three interns and their mentors at Washougal-based Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS). Upon completion of the flipped internship and graduation from Hayes Freedom High School, Haley (center in white shirt) was hired to perform production planning at ADS.
It is with some relief that we see hope for the science-enabled return to normalcy with COVID vaccines being rolled out across the country. At the same time, it is good to take stock in what we have learned about helping students and especially underserved populations during this pandemic. The old saying “necessity is the mother of invention” certainly applies. All of us have had to find new ways to support educators and engage students in continued learning.
For the Career Connect SW team, this has entailed thinking about reaching our objectives in new ways. We have been working to establish remote Project Based Learning (PBL) opportunities for educators that link their students directly to industry partners via Flipped Internships. The idea is to have the industry partner present a challenge to the students that is representative of their work environment. The industry partner provides an industry overview, presents the challenge, holds a mid-project check-in with students, and then concludes the PBL by reviewing their final projects.
The COVID environment has facilitated two changes for us. First, it has accelerated our efforts to reduce the overhead on the teachers. Our team develops the industry relationships, collaboratively builds the PBL, and then makes both available to educators for implementation. Secondly, we have learned that applying remote technologies has allowed us to facilitate the learning in rural communities by eliminating travel requirements on the industry partners. Our furthest reach to date is at the edge of our service area in Ocean Beach School District.
For the students, the PBL offers many benefits over traditional Career Related Learning Experiences (CRLEs):
- Through their PBL project work, students are able to deepen their knowledge of the industry including information flows, resources, tools, and interdependencies of professional organizations.
- Students learn about teamwork as they address the challenges in small groups allowing them to practice leadership and communication skills.
- The time students have with industry representatives is extended beyond the typical CRLE allowing for a deeper relationship and potential development of social capital.
- Students develop confidence and interpersonal skills as they present their solutions/ findings.
It is our goal to expand our library of Flipped Internships available to educators and to make this library “open-source” by allowing educators to contribute to and pull from the library without necessarily requiring our support. It is one exciting way we will bring this capability to the thirty school districts we serve.