“I understand that you have also done some research on different types of sensors. I want you to provide me with the reasons why you think that a temperature sensor is a necessity in this design. I want to compare my reasons with your reasons.”
This is an excerpt from an e-mail that a student would receive when working on the Sensor Experimentation assignment in the Systems & Controls CareerPort. The virtual internship structure of a CareerPort offers students the opportunity to apply core learning in a real-life scenario.
CareerPorts capitalize upon the growing desire for increasing responsibility and independence of the high school student. Through guided discovery, students analyze and apply information in order to make positive and beneficial contributions to the company for which they are virtually interning.
To further emulate real life, students are given flexibility in when and where they complete many of their assignments. Most of the research, writing, and communication that is required can be completed by the student at any time, through any Internet connection. This is especially important for at-risk and working students who have nontraditional school environments or schedules. Students are given an approximate timetable for completion of their assignments and track their progress against the suggestions.
Because flexibility is paramount in the program, ensuring student accountability is critical. Multiple accountability measures are in place, and student-teacher communication is vital. Facilitators can access a student’s timetable at any time to determine if the student is struggling with time management. Students are provided rubrics to guide them in assignment completion and expectations. Student learning and activity completion is evaluated through regular assignment submissions. Finally, communication between the student and his or her virtual coworkers is easily monitored through an online forum-type thread list, and assignment submission is generally electronic as well.
Another enticing aspect of the CareerPort system is the inclusion of equipment and processes that field professionals use. The CareerPorts within the Engineering cluster are very rich in authentic, hands-on activities. In Engineering Communication, for example, students utilize Microsoft Project to create timelines and budgets to be used in designing and manufacturing a product. In Engineering’s Systems & Controls, students are required to explore electrical circuitry and robotics in order to design and create a working prosthesis prototype for their company. The Diagnostic Health CareerPort within the Health cluster offers students the opportunity to conduct cancer gene screenings and simulated paternity and drug testing..Cooperation skills are needed to get the job done at the team table.