Student Showcase at NCPN Provides Up-Close Look at CTE Programs in FL & Tête-à-Tête with Industry Experts

Students enrolled in Career & Technical Education programs across Florida had the opportunity to showcase their programs and best practices at the 2014 National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) Conference in Orlando, FL. At the conference, Florida Career Pathways Network (FCPN) partnered with the 2014 NCPN Conference to host a Florida student showcase to give conference attendees an up-close look at secondary and post-secondary career pathway programs, highlight CTE programs offered by Florida based educational institutions, and provide visitors from around the country a chance to talk to students enrolled in these programs. FCPN featured selected FL Best Practices to be part of a special “Florida Surge Session” during the conference.

Given the potential for statewide/national exposure, FLATE took an active role not only in promoting
the opportunity to the educational community in Florida, but also helped secure funds for some students to attend the conference and participate at the showcase. This year’s student showcase comprised of programs from 10 middle and high schools from  Florida. Among them were the student showcase from McLane Middle School in Brandon and Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville, FL.

It was the first time the Vibots—the robotics team from McLane Middle School in Brandon—participated in the student showcase at the NCPN conference, said Mike Wilson, program director for the robotics program at McLane. The overall theme of their showcase “Robotics in the Modern World” was geared to promote robotics as a tool for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Using a humanoid robot students demonstrated how robotics can be used to teach manufacturing principles and its applicability in everyday settings.

The Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Academy and the NCAC Model Aviation Academy
at Frank H. Peterson (FHP) Academies in Jacksonville also teamed up with the National Flights Academy to send students for the first time to participate in the Florida student showcase. Stephanny Cahill, Darius Singletary and Charles Stephens were the three students who attended the showcase along with Jessica Parrish, vice principal and Russ Henderlite, instructor for the automation and production technology and director of the robotics program at FHP.

The theme of their showcase was “Tying Manufacturing to NCAC Model Academy,” and was a culminating experience for students who were taking coursework from both academies and had interest in pursuing careers in aviation and/or manufacturing. “The idea behind the participation was to give students an experience in presenting their achievements to an outside audience and represent the school to a national group” said Russ Henderlite who was recently named 2014 FLATE secondary educator of the year.

Students showcased the robotics and advanced manufacturing and aviation academies and how they were connected to the manufacturing industry and STEM field in general. Students also presented an informational PowerPoint about the Aviation Academy and their participation in the Naval Flight Academy. They operated several different types of robots that were on display, and manufactured giveaway items to conference/booth attendees that were made onsite using a 3D printer to demonstrate the ability to rapid prototype designs.

The Florida Student Showcase offered several perks to participating schools and students. “The
biggest reason is the experiential learning” that students will gain from interacting with educators across the nation said Nicole Palmer, coordinator for career pathways at Valencia College. Other takeaways included a first-hand look at how other CTE programs around the state are configured, as well as an exposure and opportunity to interact with professionals from a variety of fields who answered students’ questions and improved their understanding of what it takes to work in high-tech industry. Both Henderlite and Wilson stated the conference gave their students a chance to talk with local vendors and learn about STEM-based careers that are available to them across Florida. Henderlite was highly impressed with the role NSF ATE Centers like FLATE and its business partners were taking to help educators at the secondary school level to provide students with opportunities to gain experience outside the classroom. Both Henderlite and Wilson agreed “the interaction with adults served as an energizer for students to pursue STEM careers.”

Besides, F.H. Peterson and McLane Middle School, other Florida student showcases included
those from: Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie, Boone High School in Orlando, Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, Middleton High School in Tampa, Leesburg High School in Leesburg, Madison Middle School in Tampa and Celebration High School/Osceola School of Arts/Westside Middle School in Celebration. For more information on the NCPN conference and the Florida student showcase visit www.ncpn.info and www.ftpn.org. To learn about Career and Technical Student organizations head to www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Executive Director of FLATE, Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org/813.259.6578.