MOBILE, Ala. — Sarah McMillian, a teacher from Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum, was in Mobile, Ala., last week for professional development training related to We Build It Better’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics curriculum.
Both KTEC campuses — East and West — employ the We Build It Better STEAM curriculum.
A total of 36 middle school teachers from Alabama, California, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi and Wisconsin convened at Flight Works Alabama on Monday, July 18, for a week-long program designed to enhance their proficiency in We Build lt Better’s unique STEAM learning system.
“I’m most excited to turn my classroom into a work experience for the students,” McMillian said. “School is their job currently, so the skills they need to take into the workplace are essential. Our school emphasizes teaching 21st-century skills. It’ll be great to see some of the connections between what we’re teaching them now and how it relates to the real world in their futures.”
She added that We Build It Better allows students to gain new experiences that might prove eye-opening.
“It’s important to expose kids and give them real-world opportunities,” McMillian said. “Otherwise, how do you know if you like something or could be good at it if you have never experienced it? This curriculum will allow our students to invent and create a product while learning about the design process, which is an invaluable experience.”
Teachers mastered the skills to transform their classrooms into Centers of Invention and Innovation, exercise product development by using industry-grade tools and equipment, become fluent in manufacturing and industry terminology and to begin or continue their journey to become subject matter experts in real-world business and manufacturing concepts and practices.
Activities were as diverse as building a model Airbus A320 aircraft to designing and constructing an electric vehicle, to 3D printing their first invention. Roughly one-fourth of attendees are conducting refresher training, while the majority are new to We Build It Better. A total of 81 schools in five states taught the We Build It Better program in the 2021-2022 academic year. Another 27 schools in six states are adopting the program for the 2022-2023 school year, for a total of 108 schools in eight states.
About We Build It Better
We Build It Better is an all-inclusive industry-designed, educator-developed, curricular experience that engages middle school students in a work-like STEAM environment. The program lays a foundation for students to understand the process of developing a new product and equips them with the skills needed to design and create an innovative solution to a real-world industry-based challenge.
The We Build It Better program was developed by Flight Works Alabama in partnership with Airbus, Amazon Web Services, the State of Alabama, Alabama Power Foundation, Snap-On Incorporated, and Mott MacDonald. The program’s objective is to weave 21st century work skills with higher-level thinking skills such as measurement, product design, tools, electric wiring, fiber optics, and coding to encourage students to design inventions of their own.