Current emphasis on STEM education and the preparation of students for the workplace of tomorrow prompted me to research job opportunities recently. I found lists of the best STEM jobs and articles about essential skills we should teach our students. There is a consistent agreement that to promote career readiness, we should focus on:
- Technology competence in a broad variety of apps
- Professional skills such as flexibility, time management, and communication
- Critical and innovative thinking
In this post, I’m picking one particular job and exploring how we can engage students with career readiness skills training. If we can spark kids’ interest with a fun activity and then build valuable STEM proficiencies, the knowledge, attitudes, and skills gained will transfer to other areas. Developing an awareness and interest in STEM related careers is the first step to preparing students for the workplace of tomorrow. Trying on one job can encourage young people to reflect on future goals and choices.
Project-Based Learning and STEM Education
TechnoTravel is a technology project in which students take on the role of a travel agent. They research a travel destination and then use presentation software to construct an advertisement that promotes a weekend getaway. The project-based activities correspond to STEM education guidelines:
TechnoTravel Builds Workplace Skills
What does a travel agent do?
A travel agent needs to listen to clients to understand their needs and interests. They must research information and prepare a proposal. They must schedule an itinerary, calculate costs to fit a budget, and attend to details. Finally, they need to promote the trip to the customer in an attractive and persuasive presentation. In TechnoTravel, students practice all of these skills as they plan a trip considering a target audience and then prepare a presentation as an advertisement.
Completing this project develops effective work habits such as time management, problem-solving skills, communication, perseverance, and productivity.
A travel agent’s responsibilities are similar to many other careers. The work ethic and skills learned, both professional and technological, can be transferred to other jobs.
TechnoTravel is Interdisciplinary
Integrating technology into other curriculum teaches multiple learning objectives in one activity. The teacher guide for TechnoTravel offers a great variety of suggestions for integrating technology into curriculum. Language Arts, Social Science, Science, History, or Geography learning objectives can be combined in a single project. Here are just a few of the many ideas listed in the guide:
- Ecotour – Promote environmental stewardship by taking tourists into a natural or wilderness area.
- Follow the Footsteps – Visit places of historical importance by following the route of a famous explorer.
- Celebrate Cultural Differences – Feature the festivals, folklore, and cuisine of a unique culture.
- Transport Back in Time – Travel to an ancient civilization with a time machine and experience the values, beliefs, and daily life of the time period.
- Explore the Undiscovered – Visit other parts of the solar system or the ocean depths using futuristic technology.
- Indulge a Hobby – Design a trip that caters to a specific sport, hobby, or interest.
TechnoTravel Develops Technology Skills
Students master a variety of learning objectives in an integrated project: online research, word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet skills, including:
✓ Research Skills – apply search strategies, organize facts in a planner, gather websites with travel advice, pictures, and maps
✓ Word Processing Skills – format text and paragraphs, copy formatting, select paste options
✓ Presentation Skills – customize the slide master, insert and format picture files and objects, organize information in tables, insert links and videos, apply transitions and animation, customize the handout master, configure output options for presentations
✓ Spreadsheet Skills – enter and format data into a workbook, modify columns and rows, apply currency format, calculate data using the Sum feature, apply fills and borderlines
TechnoTravel Engages Students
Learning is enhanced when students are interested and find a project personally meaningful. Planning a weekend getaway is a sure way to spark student interest and make connections using a relevant, real-world activity.
TechnoTravel Builds Creativity
As each student designs a unique travel promotion, they generate original ideas, solutions, and final projects. STEM education stresses the importance of creative thinking in the jobs of the future. We don’t know exactly what the careers will require, but the ability to develop innovative insights and concepts will be essential.
TechnoTravel Supports Personalized Learning
As students choose the destinations of their travel ads, they design unique promotions. Differentiation is a key part of the project. Students build on their individual strengths, needs, and interests. They gain ownership over their learning as they develop technology and interpersonal skills. TechnoKids step-by-step student workbooks allow for flexible pacing. Performance-based assessment is achieved through testing of the slide master, checklists throughout the project, and an itemized final marking sheet. Teachers play the role of mentor as students take the responsibility for their projects. An inquiry-based, student-centered approach is the foundation of personalized learning.
TechnoTravel Adds the “A” to STEM
Educators frequently propose adding art and design to STEM education to change it to STEAM. TechnoTravel builds creative arts skills along with technology, curricular, and personal skills. Students are challenged to design a promotional tool enticing clients to take a travel vacation. They discover the value of a unique slide master design, attractive presentation appearance, eye-catching formatting decisions, and an easy to read and balanced layout.
STEM Career Readiness with TechnoTravel Technology Project
Visit TechnoTravel to learn more about this technology project. View a short video of a sample student project, examine the learning objectives, and read teacher reviews of TechnoKids projects. Teach STEM and STEAM career readiness skills in a fun, engaging activity for middle school students.