Top CTE Programs Recognized with National Award

Eleven CTE programs were selected for 2016 “Excellence in Action” awards by Advance CTE, a national association of state CTE directors. The awards are intended to highlight high quality Career Cluster-based programs of study that have a meaningful impact on student achievement and success. More information about the award program and its winners can be found on the Advance CTE website.

Congratulations to the eleven CTE programs receiving awards:

Tulare Join Union High School District Farm
Agriculture Education, California

Advanced Technologies Academy
Architectural Design, Nevada

Vista PEAK Preparatory
Business Education, Colorado

Peoria Unified School District
Early Childhood Education, Arizona

Hamburg High School
Academy of Finance, New York

Waubonsee Community College
Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic, Illinois

Des Moines Independent School District
Central Campus Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Academy, Iowa

Southwest High School
Computer Maintenance Technology & IT Certification Program, Texas

Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
Legal Studies, Texas

Desert View High School
Precision Machining and Mechanical Drafting, Arizona

Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Career-Tech Center
Manufacturing Technology Academy, Michigan

Get Involved in the National Week of Making

The National Week of Making is quickly approaching! We are less than one month away from the June 17th kick-off! There are plenty of ways you can get involved.

Learn about the National Week of MakingPhoto of White House made of Lego blocks

Webinars are being held to provide information about the National Week of Making. The next webinar is being held on Thursday, May 19, at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. If you are not able to make that session, there will be an additional webinar next week. Registration links are provided below:

Webinar Schedule (all times Eastern):

Make a commitment

Let the White House know what new actions, commitments, or other activities you or your organization might be considering by going to the Nation of Makers website and submitting your information on the “What are you making?” form.

Nominate a Champion of Change

If you know someone who has had a significant impact on moving Making forward, you can nominate them as a Champion of Change. As part of the National Week of Making, the White House will be sharing stories of the countless leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators who work daily within their local communities across the country. The Administration wants your help to identify Champions of Change who are working to make advances in technology, platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday May 18, 2016 (it just takes 5 minutes). You can read more about the call for nominations on the White House Blog and submit nominations at https://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Learn about the CTE Makeover Challenge

OCTAE launched the CTE Makeover Challenge to encourage more makerspaces in high schools. Contact your local high school to see if they were one of the more than 600 schools that entered the Challenge. You can learn more information about the Challenge at CTEMakeoverChallenge.com. The CTE Makeover Bootcamp phase of the Challenge will be concluding on May 22 when schools will submit Blueprints for their makerspaces. Stay tuned on #CTEMakeover.

Local activities

We are looking forward to the National Week of Making and invite you to join forces with us from June 17th through the 23rd and get involved in your local community. Here are a few ways folks in the maker community are already active:

  • Posting photos using #NationOfMakers to show your latest creation and share news about your events.
  • Organizing an event and/or hosting an open house at your local school, library, rec center, makerspace or set up a hangout online to connect and share your inventions with Makers across the country. Some have posted their events on a community website such as weekofmaking.org
  • Volunteering to be a mentor for someone who is interested in learning a new skill or find a mentor who would be interested in teaching a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn for a while.
  • Organizing a maker roundtable, maker town hall, or maker tour to convene thought leaders and decision makers in your community. (See what was done in Cleveland.)
  • Your brilliant idea here!

Stay updated

More information about the National Week of Making, National Maker Faire, and Making can be found on the following websites, and share your thoughts and ideas using the following hashtags.

Engaging in STEM Where We Live

Some public housing authorities (PHAs) are at the forefront of communities that are adopting place-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives, involving family members from preschoolers to adults, and creating opportunities to learn that are life-wide and lifelong.

Increasing exposure to and engagement in STEM learning outside of formal classroom settings is increasingly viewed as key to turning on more young people to STEM studies, and to addressing the equity gaps between high- and low-resourced families, schools, and communities. Recently the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter to help state and local education agencies and their partners better understand how to use Federal funds to support innovative STEM education strategies to address equity goals.

The PHAs featured here, representing over 31,091 residents, with an average household income of $11,109, are part of communities participating in the SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development) initiative, supported in part by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), and Energy (DOE). See a previous blog on the SEED sites.  In a three month period last fall, these PHAs have documented 138 STEM-related activities and training that have reached over 1,200 residents.

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FFA Members Exhibit Biotech and Agriscience at White House Science Fair

Talie Cloud, from Sanger, California and Mikayla Ockels from Sussex, Delaware, exhibited their projects at the sixth annual White House Science Fair held on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. The science fair celebrated the accomplishments of students from throughout the country in a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Talie Cloud – Momordica Charantia as an Insecticide

Photo of Talie Cloud standing on the White House lawn with her exhibit

Talie Cloud exhibited her award winning agriscience project at the 2016 White House Science Fair

Talie, 15, is a member of the Sanger FFA Chapter and won first place in her category and division at the 2015 National FFA Agriscience Fair, an annual competition sponsored by Cargill, John Deere and Syngenta during the National FFA Convention & Expo. The FFA Agriscience Fair features the research and results of FFA members who plan on pursuing careers in the science and technology of agriculture.

Her project explored the effects of Momordica charantia, or bitter melon seed, on the reproductive rate of Drosophila melanogaster after four generations of exposure. The purpose of the project was to determine whether the bitter melon seed could be used as a potential organic insecticide.

Her findings determined that with more investigation on the chemical makeup, ideal concentration mixture, environmental impact and application method, Momordica charantia would be a cost-efficient and effective agricultural insecticide that acts upon the reproduction of the pest, rather than the mortality rate.

Talie is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) student in agriculture, food and natural resources and was invited to exhibit at the White House Science Fair which was the last science fair to be held during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Mikayla Ockels – Feed to Egg Conversion Rate

Photo of Mikayla Ockels standing on the White House lawn in front of her exhibit while holding a hen.

Mikayla Ockels exhibited her award winning biotech science project at the 2016 White House Science Fair

Mikayla, from Sussex Central High School in Delaware, presented her project, “The Feed to Egg Conversion Rate of Heritage Hens.” This project studied which breed of heritage hen had the optimal feed-to-egg conversion rate in a pasture raised environment. Feed to egg conversion rate is the amount of feed it takes for a hen to lay a single egg. Mikayla studied heritage breeds, as these are the breeds that are the hardiest and can thrive in an outdoor environment. Her pasture raised egg business requires heritage breeds, as pasture raised means that the birds are let outside every day to roam freely. This project won awards at the state and regional levels, including the state BioGENEius competition. Mikayla also participated in the National FFA Agriscience fair in 2013 and 2014.

Posted by
Education Program Specialist, OCTAE

One Week Remains to Join the CTE Makeover Challenge!

Composite image that reads CTE Makeover Challenge, calling on Schools to Design Makerspaces, $200000 in cash awards plus additional prizes. CTE Makeoverchallenge.comThere is one week left for schools to enter the CTE Makeover Challenge and compete for a share of the $200,000 cash prize pool and additional in-kind prizes! The Challenge was launched on March 9, 2016 and calls on high schools to design makerspaces that strengthen next-generation career and technical skills.

Schools can join the Challenge by visiting CTEMakeoverChallenge.com and completing a short submission form. The Challenge website also contains more information about the Challenge as well as complete rules, terms, and conditions.

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Upcoming Webinar on Teaching Transportation

Innovative Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Partnerships, a webinar on effective teaching strategies, is scheduled for February 24, 2016. The 90-minute webinar is being hosted by the Southwest Transportation Workforce Center (SWTWC), which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The webinar is being held from 3:30pm to 5:00pm Eastern Time (12:30pm to 2:00pm Pacific Time) and will feature teachers, administrators, and industry partners who will discuss innovative education programs and teaching models for grades 6 through 12. The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is co-hosting the event.

For more information and to register for the webinar visit http://www.swtwc.org/itdlp-webinar.

Posted by
Education Program Specialist, OCTAE

SEED: Coalitions for Community Growth

The following paragraph is excerpted from the Clinton Global Foundation’s announcement:

Girls from the Tampa Public Housing Authority get involved with a project at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The SEED Coalition is inspiring young minds with STEM activities in energy efficiency. Here, girls from the Tampa Public Housing Authority get involved with a project at the Museum of Science and Industry. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy, committed to launch SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development): Coalitions for Community Growth, a place-based initiative that will connect public housing residents across the United States to STEM education and jobs. Leveraging federal investments and national partnerships, SEED will create local coalitions of public-private partners to launch or expand programs that provide access to energy literacy, STEM learning and workforce development opportunities for public housing residents. These opportunities will prepare them for living wage jobs in the energy and STEM fields, including those created by federal investments in infrastructure upgrades and energy retrofits at Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). In partnership with local PHAs, SEED will be piloted in five communities: Cleveland (Cuyahoga County), Denver, District of Columbia, San Antonio, and Tampa, with the goal of expanding to 20 cities by 2018. Through this initiative, 8,000 youth in public housing will get access to STEM education; 1,000 residents will receive STEM workforce training, and 1,000 will obtain employment. See more at: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/clinton-global-initiative/commitments/seed-coalitions-community-growth#sthash.6PL2Ju3o.dpuf

What does this look like in a community?

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Department of Energy Hosts Mentoring Cafes in STEM Career Initiative

This article is cross-posted on the Department of Energy’s website.

What career are you thinking about that you might’ve not thought about before?

“Science engineering”

What did you learn today?

“To never give up because nothing is impossible, so put your skills to the test.”

Based on your visit today, has your interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics increased?

“Yes,” from over 30 participants.

These were just some of the responses of 40 middle school girls from Tampa Public Housing Authority who got a glimpse of what it’s like to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM — at the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday, June 13.

As part of the Department of Energy’s STEM Mentoring Café program, these middle schoolers spent the day touring the museum, engaging in hands-on activities, and meeting real scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. The theme of the day was STEM Careers and Connections to Climate Change, empowering girls to get sparked by STEM, stick with it, and set their minds to their future.

To help inspire and motivate these girls, STEM professionals from NASA Kennedy Space Center, the Lowry Park Zoo, Verizon, and Tampa Electric Company volunteered their time to explore STEM with them. These mentors helped to bring to life the impact that STEM research has on everyday life and could have on these students’ futures. Annie Caraccio, a chemical engineer at NASA, spent her time providing examples of how the work of engineers at NASA has led to several inventions — including the microwave. Other mentors encouraged the girls to continue their education and seek out opportunities.

The Museum of Science and Industry also captivated the girls’ attention and sparked their curiosity. “I wish I could come back every day!” one wrote. “The museum is a place where you can find out what you want to do when you grow up,” said another.

STEM Mentoring Cafes are being launched around the country, and programs like this one can be the inspiration girls need to pursue STEM more seriously, such as through enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in high school or pursuing a degree in a STEM field in college.

Click on these links to read more about the Mentoring Cafes and to visit the Department of Energy’s original post.

Posted by
Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Exploring Games for Learning

How can games transform education? That question was at the core of the Games for Learning summit that was held in New York City in conjunction with the 12th Annual Games for Change Festival. The Office of Education Technology led the day-long event that convened educators, game developers, and technology companies to discuss the latest trends, products, and barriers to developing games that effectively deliver education content.

Photo a crowd viewing a series of video displays with demonstrations of games

Game developers try the latest educational games at the Games for Change Festival in New York City.

OCTAE had the opportunity to announce the EdSim Challenge that will be launching soon. The EdSim, or Educational Simulations, Challenge seeks to demonstrate the value of establishing a predictable framework for developers, schools, and businesses to develop and use high-quality immersive 3D simulations to deliver high-quality CTE. The framework will be developed through a crowdsourced comment phase through which the public can recommend technology and educational approaches to integrate into the challenge.

To stay updated on the EdSim Challenge and receive notification when the public comment period opens, register for email notifications on EdPrizes.com.

Also on Twitter at #EdSimChallenge and #EdPrizes.

CTE Student celebrated at White House Science Fair

Photo of Eric Koehlmoos standing with his research exhibit

Eric Koehlmoos appears with his Grass to Gas research at the 2015 White House Science Fair

Eric Koehlmoos, a Career and Technical Education student and member of the National FFA Organization was recognized at the 2015 White House Science Fair that was held on March 26 for his “Grass to Gas” project. Eric, 18, is a member of the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Paulina, Iowa. He was invited to participate in the Fair that celebrates the accomplishments of student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions throughout the United States.

More than 100 of the nation’s brightest young minds were welcomed to the fifth White House Science fair. In the past, innovative inventions, discoveries and science projects have been showcased.

Koehlmoos won first place in the Power, Structural and Technical Systems category at the 2014 National FFA Agriscience Fair, a special project of the National FFA Foundation that was sponsored by Cargill, Bayer CropScience, John Deere, PotashCorp and Syngenta. The fair was held during the National FFA Convention & Expo and featured the research and results of FFA members who plan on pursuing careers in the science and technology of agriculture. This accomplishment earned him the special White House invitation.

Koehlmoos’ project, “Grass to Gas,” consisted of three years of research with prairie cordgrass and switch grass and their potential impact in the cellulosic ethanol industry.
“Because I come from a farm background I was very interested in the biofuel industry and the new cellulosic ethanol plants being built near my house,” Koehlmoos said.

Photo of Eric Koehlmoos standing with the White House in the background

Eric Koehlmoos stands in front of the White House during his visit to Washington, D.C.

During his three years of research, Koehlmoos found that both grasses produce nearly 200 more gallons of ethanol per acre than corn and wheat straw, two mainstream methods for ethanol production. He also discovered that when both grasses are pretreated with calcium hydroxide, ethanol yields are increased by as much as 80 percent and produces a byproduct that has higher protein values than corn distiller grains.

Koehlmoos plans to continue his research in college and would ultimately like to use these grasses to commercially produce ethanol in the Southern Plains, which would provide a sustainable solution to importing foreign oil while also not competing with the food supply.

Posted by
Education Program Specialist, OCTAE