The Dublin City School District is hoping to snag a Straight-A Grant from the state to fund a program that will bring the workplace into the classroom.
Kimberly Clavin, the district's manager of STEM initiatives, submitted a grant request for $996,000 to the state's second round of Straight-A Grants for "K to Industry: Workforce Exploration, Engagement and Immersion."
According to the grant, the project-based learning program will include the "exploration of career fields, engagement with experts and industry immersion. The overarching goal of K to Industry is to populate the workforce with employees rich in contextual, technical and career skills."
The program will run in grades K-12.
"In (grades) K-12, students experience project-based learning with industry engagement," Clavin said.
"Then, in high school they choose an academy that would give them immersion."
Bringing project-based learning into the classroom, especially at the lower levels, isn't difficult.
Clavin did a project with her kindergarten-aged son that had him thinking up ways to make hair dryers not as loud.
Students will conduct similar projects in the classroom.
"He came up with moving the motor further from the ear and adding pillows to dampen the noise," Clavin said.
The program will bring companies into the classroom to present problems to students.
Cardinal Health, OCLC, Honda, Halcyon Solutions, Cybervation, Murphy Epson and Xcelerate Media have already committed to the project.
"What industry will get out if it is seeing the creativity in kids," Clavin said.
"They'll learn by example with creative thinking.
"They may get ideas that aren't logical, they have to deal with costs and logistics, but they can get some general ideas they can take and develop further."
Getting interns into the workplace in high school could also help the companies prepare future employees, Clavin added.
While the K to Industry program might sound daunting for teachers, Clavin said it won't be extra work.
"It's not going to be anything additional in the classroom," she said.
"There are no additional classes in elementary and middle school.
"The content is embedded in class. It's not in addition to class."
In fact, Clavin said the program will run much like the Hour of Code program many classrooms got involved with during the school year, bringing in volunteers and industry experts to teach students computer programming code for one hour.
"Project-based learning actually takes content standards and teaches content standards through a project," she said. "Traditionally teachers teach content in the class then do a project. The project was dessert.
"With project-based learning, the project is the main course."
Teachers can do something as simple as showing a video about an industry expert to taking a weeklong externship during the summer to get hands-on learning about industry.
"Teachers can tinker with components or they can dive deep into available resources," Clavin said.
The K to Industry program made it to the second round in the grant process and winners should be chosen by next month.
If the K to Industry program does not receive a grant, Clavin is still hoping to institute the program in some form.
"Throughout the past year I have been collecting information on student interests (and) parent/staff interests as well as workforce needs," she said.
"I merged all this information to create a strategic plan for the district.
"This grant is basically the resulting strategic plan in STEM for the district. If the grant is not awarded, we will still progress in this direction."