Category Archives: STEM

Preparing Oklahoma Students for the Workforce

When a CareerTech student brings an idea to life by prototyping it on a 3-D printer, or receives affordable, hands-on training that raises his or her earning potential by tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of months, these experiences are priming them with the skills and sense of purpose needed to work for the companies doing big things in Oklahoma. Employers are taking note, and in some cases even finding ways to support our efforts to prepare the next generation to join the workforce.

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Dr. Marcie Mack

One such company is Midship Pipeline, a project of Cheniere Energy, representing nearly a $1 billion investment in our state. Thanks to Midship’s recent generosity, STEM programs at six Oklahoma CareerTech Technology Centers, in addition to two universities, each received $20,000 donations that will improve the quality of STEM offerings. These funds will be used to buy advanced 3-D printers, create a mobile STEM library, and provide equipment and software upgrades to pre-engineering and aeronautical labs.

Our CareerTech system frequently partners with industries and companies to improve access to STEM education. In fiscal year 2018, CareerTech helped more than 6,900 Oklahoma businesses through our customized training programs and participation in the state’s bid assistance network.

Equally important, CareerTech STEM programs serve private-schooled students, home-schooled students and public school students from more than 390 school districts.

Our goal is to nurture creative students in grades six through 12 to be problem-solvers, innovators, logical thinkers, inventors and strong communicators who excel in science and mathematics.

CareerTech STEM programs play a critical role in expanding a talent pipeline of Oklahoma students who are ready to pursue viable careers in the state’s targeted industry sectors such as aerospace, energy, advanced manufacturing, health care and biotechnology.

A few examples of our STEM offerings are biomedical sciences, pre-engineering and computer science academy programs, which are taught in technology centers as well as high schools. These prepare students for professional health, engineering, computer and science degree programs with rigorous computer, math and science courses, including AP options for students.

More than 80 middle schools and junior highs benefit from our Gateway programs, which introduce students to STEM careers. Gateway courses combine Project Lead The Way math and science concepts with STEM projects to explore STEM fields and help with the transition to high school.

Last, our CareerTech programs provide a pathway for students to enter directly into a career and continue into post-secondary education. A national survey completed by Advance CTE shows that 91 percent of parents of students in CareerTech believe their child is getting a leg up on their career.

One of the greatest challenges facing Oklahoma and the nation is producing skilled workers who are trained on the latest STEM technologies and are ready for work. Without them, Oklahoma businesses cannot compete. CareerTech and our affordable STEM offerings are meeting this challenge.

Thanks again to Midship for recognizing the value of the CareerTech system and for its generous gift that will help prepare our students for a future in STEM-related fields.

Mack is director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Student Engineers Solving Real World Problems

October is national Manufacturing Month and Oklahoma CareerTech student engineers are solving real-world problems.

Students at Northeast Technology Center saw an everyday problem at Hopkins Manufacturing and developed a solution that saved money and created a safer workplace.

Oklahoma well-represented at National STEM Summit

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From left, Ken Parker, chief executive officer at NextThought; Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff; and Nathaniel Harding, chairman of the Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development.

Oklahoma CareerTech Chief of Staff Becki Foster attended the Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Summit hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C.

“Representing Oklahoma on a national level is an amazing opportunity and honor,” Foster said. “High-quality STEM education is critical on a national and local level, and Oklahoma looks forward to advancing STEM education and learning experiences for students.”

Also attending from Oklahoma were Nathaniel Harding, chairman of the Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development, and Ken Parker, chief executive officer of NextThought.

The summit convened a diverse group of state STEM leaders, including officials from governors’ offices; elementary, secondary and college and university educators; workforce and industry representatives; state policy experts; and nongovernmental organization executives. They participated in the development of a new federal five-Year STEM education strategic plan in compliance with America Competes Act of 2010.

CAREERTECH CHAMPIONS

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Adam Lettkeman – Meridian Technology Center

From homeschool to higher ed, pre-engineering grad is building a future for himself.

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Adam Lettkeman – Meridian Technology Center

THEN: A boy who loved creating crazy buildings and dragons and spaceships from a pile of Legos. Adam Lettkeman grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. His parents homeschooled him until he was old enough to find a formal outlet for his love of building things, along with his passion for graphic design. He enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s pre-engineering academy and Project Lead The Way in hopes of channeling his interests into a career path.

Adam was a year younger than his classmates when he started the program, but he quickly became very active, competing in robotics competitions, building model airplanes and more. Adam said the engineering program and the instructors at Meridian Tech

  • Helped him choose architecture as his career path.
  • Fueled his love for creating things, from circuit boards to buildings.
  • Helped him adjust to a classroom setting for the first time and prepared him for college classwork.
  • Offered advance math and science classes that he said were more rigorous than some of his college courses.
  • Introduced him to 3D modeling software programs, which are a huge part of his architecture design studios in college.

“My instructor, Debbie Short, helped me not only in the classroom but also in my personal growth,” he said. “I will always remember how much joy she brought to the program and how much she helped me along the way.”

NOW: Adam has completed his first three years of a five-year architecture program at Oklahoma State University. He is interning at Guernsey, an Oklahoma City architecture firm, and will take time out from his internship to study in Europe with the OSU College of Architecture. His goal is to work in New York City next summer, accumulating additional internship hours that will apply to his architecture licensure requirements.

“PLTW really kick-started me into believing that my dreams could be accomplished if I set my mind to it.”

Adam Lettkeman

CTE New Teacher Academies

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New Teacher Academies will take place at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education during the month of July. These educational opportunities are designed to help new teachers navigate the CareerTech system. Participants will gain new resources, learn appropriate procedures, engage in activities and network with teachers from across the state.

For additional information, please contact your division listed below and welcome to CareerTech!

Division Contacts for Enrollment

New Agricultural Education Teachers (July 9-10)

Rose Bonjour, phone: 405.743.5487, email: rose.bonjour@careertech.ok.gov

Guy Shoulders, phone: 405.743.5488, email: guy.shouders@careertech.ok.gov

New Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education Teachers (July 24-26)

Tonja Norwood, phone: 405.743.5426, email: tonja.norwood@careertech.ok.gov

New Family and Consumer Sciences Education Teachers (July 16-19)

Mary Jane Grayson, phone: 405.743.5469, email: maryjane.grayson@careertech.ok.gov

New Health Careers Education Teachers (July 9-11)

Lara Morris, phone: 405.743.5106, email: lara.skaggs@careertech.ok.gov

New Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Teachers

Dawn Frank, phone: 405.743.5438, email: dawn.frank@careertech.ok.gov

New Trade and Industrial Education Teachers (July 17-19)

John Day, phone: 405.743.5146, email: john.day@careertech.ok.gov

H.L. Baird, phone: 405.743.5517, email: h.l.baird@careertech.ok.gov

 

 

 

K-12 Schools in the Oklahoma CareerTech Education System

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School Grades 6-12 Offer CareerTech Career Training

Most of Oklahoma’s career and technology education students at the secondary level are enrolled in CareerTech programs in their local schools. In FY17, a total of 1,319 CareerTech teachers in 391 K-12 public school districts served a total enrollment of 139,598.

These students are in Grades 6-12 and are enrolled in one-period CareerTech programs including agricultural education; business, marketing and information technology education; family and consumer sciences; health careers education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; and trade and industrial education.

Value Added

Such programs add value to students’ high school careers. Not only do they meet the same academic standards required of all other students, they learn skills to manage the challenge of living and working in a diverse society. Their career and technology education classrooms provide a hands-on learning environment where they can increase technological proficiency, develop entrepreneurial skills and gain practical experience. In addition, technology education programs, designed for Grades 6-10, also provide students the opportunity to explore and experience potential careers.

Student Organizations

These K-12 school programs focus on producing well-rounded students. Students learn theory in the classroom, practice their skills in labs and shops, and gain vital leadership and teamwork skills through their participation in one of seven career and technology student organizations. These organizations include:

  • BPA – Business Professionals of America
  • DECA – Marketing
  • FCCLA – Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America
  • FFA – Agriculture, food, and natural resources student organization
  • HOSA – Future Health Professionals
  • SkillsUSA – Architecture and construction student organization
  • TSA – Technology Student Association
  • NTHS – National Technical Honor Society

More than 88,000 students join these seven organizations annually. These organizations afford them the opportunity to participate in both leadership and skill contests at the local, state, and national levels.

Success Starts on the Front Line

The success of the Oklahoma CareerTech system begins on the front line. Instructors with real-world experiences strive to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Each year, instructors are offered opportunities to participate in educational development and training programs designed to hone their technical and teaching skills. Classroom curriculum is available through the Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center. In addition, program specialists from the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provide technical assistance to instructors.

CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Cammi Valdez – Enid Schools – DECA and TSA

From TSA to Ph.D., Harvard scientist urges girls to pursue STEM careers.

THEN: At Emerson Junior High School in Enid, Cammi Valdez followed her sister’s lead

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Cammi Valdez – Enid Schools (TSA and DECA)

and got involved in CareerTech student organizations. She eventually served as a state officer in both Technology Student Association and DECA, and by the time she graduated from Enid High School she had competed in everything from building balsa wood gliders to public speaking. That technology education and TSA involvement – as well as an influential instructor and mentor – were the first steps on her way to a career in science, technology, engineering and math. Cammi earned both a B.S. Professional degree in chemistry and a B.S. in mathematics in just four years at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and she received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University.

She says she still draws from her experiences in TSA and DECA, including:

  • Leadership qualities she learned as a state officer. (At SWOSU she became president of the math honor society and her chemistry club, and at Harvard she held a number of leadership roles on her graduate student council, including two years as president.)
  • Public speaking and networking.
  • A love of all things STEM.

NOW: Assistant director for undergraduate research and fellowships at Harvard, she runs a fellowship program primarily for humanities and social sciences students – from underrepresented backgrounds – who are interested in careers in academia. She also runs a summer research program that prepares undergrads for STEM-related graduate programs.

Cammi says a STEM background can lead to job security, intellectual stimulation and more career opportunities than ever.

“The biomedical sciences field is exploding,” she said. “And the world is also becoming more reliant on computer science.”

The Harvard scientist has become a role model for young women considering a career in STEM.

 

“I remember having teachers who told me you don’t need to be good at math or science because you’re a girl…I hope students today have access to people who say, ‘You CAN do it.’”

Cammi Valdez, biomedical scientist at Harvard University