Made in Florida Learning Challenges: An “educational best-practices” model for middle and high school teachers

The Made in Florida Learning Challenges are state-of-the-art classroom materials that bring an innovative dimension into the classroom. These challenges provide middle and high school teachers with lesson plans, activities and assessments that are designed to enrich science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes. Each challenge provides a real-world scenario using Florida-based companies (Tropicana, Featherlite Luxury Coaches, Black Diamond Guitar Strings) to highlight the different phases (Innovate, Design, Fabricate, Test, Market, and Distribute) in the manufacturing process.

Since its implementation in 2006, the MIF challenges have been presented to over 200 teachers and educators across the nation. It has served as an “educational best-practices” model in several conferences, and generated interest among middle and high school students/educators alike.

Most recently, Jodi Sutton, FLATE curriculum coordinator made a presentation of the “Featherlite” challenge at the Florida Engineering Education Conference at the University of Central Florida. The challenge highlights the “design” phase of the production/manufacturing cycle. It underlines the importance of the “Dream it! Draw it! Build it!” mantra, and uses computer-aided design technology to design the interior layout of a luxury motor coach from start to finish. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE said “Connecting the classroom learning activities directory to a local industry makes a lasting impression on students. The Featherlite Learning Challenge coupled with the “Made in Florida” tour of the same facility exemplifies the relevance of rigor and relevance in modern manufacturing operations/education.”

The presentation generated tremendous momentum/interest among educators. Following the conference, Mia Conlon, science teacher at Rock Lake Middle School in Longwood, Florida, took her students on a “Made in Florida” tour of the Featherlite Coaches manufacturing facilities. Conlon’s students also designed a brochure capturing the finer details of the blue print. “My students are very excited and enjoyed the field trip. They also enjoyed using the challenge” Conlon said.

The MIF Challenges for modern manufacturing are aligned with Florida’s Sunshine State Standards for Science, Mathematics and the curriculum framework for technology education. For more information about the challenges please contact Jodi Sutton at 813.259.6575/, or visit,

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