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How to Keep Students Awake in Class – Precision Plus in the News

Michael Reader

This is a reprint of an article authored by Susan Pohorski, which first appeared on Wisconsin Technical College System’s website.

How to keep students awake in class

By Susan Pohorski

It’s an age-old problem that has challenged teachers forever. How do you keep students awake and engaged in a classroom setting?

Several Elkhorn High School students took on this problem as the capstone project for their Engineering Design Development class. The students conducted research, designed prototype products and tested the products until they felt they had a viable answer.Their product is a pen that vibrates when the user has been inactive for a certain time period. Nod off and your pen will wake you.

A new way of teaching and learning
Hundreds of Wisconsin high schools and middle schools from Appleton to Winneconne are using an activity, project, and problem-based curriculum developed by Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to help students develop skills they need for success in post-secondary education and beyond.  As a result, students rarely fall a sleep during class.

Since 2009, Elkhorn Area School District (EASD) has implemented PLTW curriculum throughout all levels to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Courses cover biomedical science, computer science and engineering concepts. EASD is one of only two districts in the country where every student has access to PLTW curriculum.

“PLTW courses are very engaging and reach students with different learning styles,” commented Jason Tadlock, superintendent of the EASD. “Kids see the relevance of math and science in real life.”

Second grade students engineer a device for planting seeds. Fourth graders create vehicles and put them through crash testing. In fifth grade, the students learn to build and operate robots.

“We hear consistent feedback from employers who look for PLTW students because of their academic and teamwork skills,” Tadlock added.

Business partners with schools
The district also has a unique partnership with a major employer in the area. In 2012 Precision Plus invited 24 area educators to tour their facilities to discuss the career possibilities available for high school graduates. The school district also hosts an annual Manufacturing Career Panel discussion for students sponsored by Precision Plus Representatives of Elkhorn area employers discuss the state of industry and the possibilities manufacturing offers. This year Mike Reader, president of Precision Plus, moderated the discussion.

Students who toured local manufacturing facilities asked if they could have internships with the companies.

“We had 10 student interns the first year,” said Barry Butters, director of education and training for Precision Plus, who was hired to coordinate and grow the program. He teaches some of the PLTW engineering courses, including the one mentioned above.

“Mike Reader is a true visionary,” Butters explained. “He saw the need to develop a talent pipeline and engage the schools.”

With the partnership of Precision Plus and a grant from the Kern Foundation, teachers from the Elkhorn Area School District attended PLTW training.

Work skills, life skills
“Project Lead the Way makes better thinkers and problem solvers,” Butters adds. “When young students understand they can make things and solve problems, they will go far in life.”Chris Trottier, principal of Elkhorn High School enthusiastically supports the new style of learning for his students.“Kids develop skills to enter the workforce,” he said. “Like problem solving and critical thinking.”Tadlock points out that students in these classes learn to take risks and learn from their mistakes. “Kids come out ahead when they can overcome trials. That skill carries over into the world of work,” he continued.Does your school use project-, activity- and problem-based curriculum? Employers want job candidates who are thinkers and problem solvers.“Challenge businesses to get involved,” Butters urged parents. “Schools cannot do it alone with the fiscal constraints they are under.”

Read the original article HERE.

STEM Education Event at Advanced Manufacturing Center on April 22, 2015 Features Elkhorn Area School District PLTW Students and Teachers, State Legislators and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch

Michael Reader


In fall of 2014, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) announced a pilot program with a curriculum specifically designed for elementary school children, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics arts (STEM). PLTW has had a solid record for rigorous and comprehensive curricula available to children from middle school through high school. Elkhorn Area School District was an early adopter of the elementary grades pilot program, the PLTW Launch Curriculum, which gives students an opportunity to explore and apply STEM sciences early on.

Dr. Joshua Schultz, Affiliate Director of PLTW at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), extended an invitation to Elkhorn Area School District PLTW students, as well as teachers and administrators, to participate in a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development event and reception at the Advanced Manufacturing Center in Milton, WI on April 22, 2015, to celebrate the district’s accomplishments and receive a special recognition. Also invited were State of Wisconsin legislators, PLTW officials, Barry Butters from Precision Plus, and Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

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As planned, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was at hand to hand the special recognitions. So were William White, Vice President, Project Lead The Way Midwest Region, Jason Tadlock, District Administrator for the Elkhorn Area School District and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus

Students included Cullen Gahart (3rd Grade), Matthew Prokes (4th Grade), Natalie Petersen (5th Grade), Lesly Rodriguez (6th Grade), Gwen Nicholas (6th Grade), Wendy Remeeus (6th Grade), Elizabeth Wallace (11th Grade, Justice Bachtell (12th Grade), J.P. Griswold (12th Grade) and Kathryn Lieffrig (12th Grade). Teachers present were Eryca Card, Linda Frankenberg, Alex Hutson, Barry Butters and Jerry Iserloth. Jason Tadlock and Chris Trottier represented the administrators.

Teachers and administrators were asked to talk about their STEM initiatives, and to showcase their efforts to support education, their students, and reiterate the importance of STEM education policy decisions in Wisconsin. In addition, students from the Elkhorn Area School District displayed their projects and shared the value and lessons learned through their PLTW coursework.

The agenda included a continental breakfast, introductions and welcome by Tania Kilpatrick, CESA 6, an overview of PLTW in the Midwest Region by William White, presentations by Jason Tadlock, Barry Butters, Eryca Card and students, and by Thor Misko, Vice President of Development at PLTW. Dr. Joshua Schultz closed the program with final remarks about the event and the program.

And thank you, Elkhorn Area School District, for the shout out on their Facebook Page!

 

Precision Plus on the Move: Barry Butters Visits Area Schools

Michael Reader

As part of the continuing effort to bring attention to the manufacturing industry as a viable career option for today’s youth, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, and other representatives from Precision Plus Inc. have been traveling to Wisconsin area high schools and technical colleges.

On November 1st, Butters spent the day at Burlington High School’s Career Day Fair.  The event allowed students to gather information from the booths of various prospective employers from a wide array of industries.

“It was evident from the discussions with the students, that there are still a number of misconceptions about manufacturing,” said Butters.

Butters then traveled three and a half hours to Eleva Strum High School on November 7th. Technology Education teacher Craig Cegielski, has developed an operational manufacturing company run by the students within the school. The Eleva Strum staff, students and community were filled with pride about what their program has accomplished to date.  Cegielski’s outstanding efforts bring real-life manufacturing experiences into his classroom.

Butters and Production Supervisor Charles Lankford, traveled to Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville on November 19th.  They took a tour of the CNC Machine Program facility and met with CNC Technician Instructor Rich Grossen.  The entire manufacturing program at Blackhawk will be moving to a new facility in nearby Milton in the near future. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Milton will result in larger capabilities for the program.

On November 26th, both Barry Butters and Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, traveled to Richmond-Burton High School to speak to an “Introduction to Business” class about the manufacturing industry.  Mike shared the challenges of running a manufacturing business in the current economy, and Barry focused his remarks on employability skills.

Subsequently, Butters traveled to East Troy High School on December 1st to speak to Mark Beilman’s “Introduction to Engineering” class about the manufacturing industry and specifically what is manufactured at Precision Plus Inc.  East Troy is a first-year Project Lead the Way (or PLTW) school with just one-course offering. Beilman shared that East Troy High School plans to add an additional PLTW course each year.  Precision Plus Inc. is a big supporter of the PLTW Program, which follows the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Initiative to promote the field of engineering. The PLTW curriculum strives to provide experiences to stimulate interest in the manufacturing industry.

 

Reader and Butters attended the State Project Lead the Way Conference in Pewaukee on December 9th, for which Precision Plus is a “Friend of STEM” donor.  At the conference, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch addressed the state’s PLTW teachers, where she acknowledged the skills gap that companies, such as Precision Plus, are facing.  It was encouraging to see the sheer number of high school educators working in conjunction with the PLTW program through the Milwaukee School of Engineering to stimulate interest in the youth of Wisconsin toward this field.

On January 7th, Precision Plus representatives, President Mike Reader, Director of Sales and Engineering William Wells, Production Supervisor Tom Lankford, Director of Education, and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, traveled with Elkhorn’s District Administrator Jason Tadlock and Assistant Principal Dan Kiel to tour Beloit Memorial High School’s Technical Education facility. What has been accomplished at this facility in a short period of time is remarkable. Steve McNeal, Beloit’s District Administrator, said it was truly a partnership between the school and local industry leaders.  Beloit Memorial High School has also hired Ryan Rewey to be the Technology Education Coordinator to ensure the program’s success.

Butters again traveled back to Beloit Memorial High School to speak to PLTW teacher Tammy Spoerk’s classes on January 10th.  Butters message centered on the potential for a great career in the manufacturing industry and specifically, what is manufactured at Precision Plus

Butters went back to East Troy High School to speak at their Career Day on January 14th. He and fellow manufacturer Jerry Heckel from Heckel Tool & Manufacturing Corporation gave a presentation to 40 students on the skill-set needed to join the manufacturing industry, including problem-solving skills, a significant background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as experience in traditional metals classes.

Butters plans to visit Delavan-Darien High School and Woodstock High School in the near future.  Mike Reader is committed to the cause of re-introducing the manufacturing industry to the next generation of professionals, dispelling the misconception that manufacturing is a dirty and dangerous profession. Precision Plus Inc. invites any individual or group interested in learning more about the manufacturing industry to their facility for an informational tour.  Furthermore, Barry Butters and Mike Reader will travel to speak to any group interested in learning about the manufacturing industry.  Feel free to contact them with any requests at 262.743.1700 or via email: Barry ButtersMike Reader.