"How do we cut and fold this wing quicker?"
"Does it matter which way the resistor goes in?
"Is the leash part of the cost?
"Do you really need the nuts in a banana split?"
"How do I make a punch line?"
These curious questions emerged during CareerTHINK, a unique workshop at Archwood Elementary-Middle Years School back on Feb. 21 — an event created to promote student engagement in school.
A variety of research studies point out that, despite the best efforts of teachers, many students become disengaged in school as early as Grade 3.
CareerTHINK occurred in the Archwood gym for an entire morning. Organizers designed the event to show students the importance of Workplace Education Manitoba’s 9 Essential Skills for Work, which include reading, writing, speaking, doing math, problem-solving and collaborating in teams.
The students were immersed in some very diverse activities — airplane manufacturing, entrepreneurial start-ups, L.E.D. series circuits, computer flowcharting and cartooning. All hands-on. All related to skills and careers.
The stations were facilitated by Grade 12 students from Windsor Park Collegiate and by professionals from Winnipeg’s business community.
Demetre Balaktsis, from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, who ran the entrepreneurship station, was impressed with the students’ ingenuity.
"Kids were quickly able to produce the bones of business plans for services and products. Greatness is locked up within them... with a bit of guidance, their potential as entrepreneurs can be liberated."
At first glance, talking careers and skills may seem a little premature for elementary students, but Principal Nicholas Kelly doesn’t think so.
"We work hard at developing literacy and numeracy skills in our students but we also need to make school more engaging and relevant, and we think this is one way to accomplish this goal."
The morning was not a one-stop activity. Teacher Krista Labossiere followed up the busy morning in the classroom with discussion and writing activities about careers and skills.
She believes connecting students to the world beyond school walls is important:"By exploring additional careers, conversing about skills, and writing about future goals , students realize the skills you learn at school help you in life."
The students completed exit sheets that revealed overwhelming support for the morning of hands-on learning and Essential Skills development.
The event was so well-received by Archwood students and teachers that the school is planning another career event with the Manitoba Trucking Association in June. This little school on Archibald Street is working hard to make academic content and learning engaging, relevant and fun for its students.
Contact Mr. Kelly at 204-233-7983 or through the school website, www.lrsd.com/schools/archwood to inquire about the CareerTHINK initiative or to lend your professional expertise to a future event.
If you’d like to learn more about the 9 Essential Skills for Work, check out www.wem.mb.ca/the_9_essential_skills.aspx.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org