Iowa STEM Blog

Wednesday, April 4, 2023

No Boundaries Middle School (NOBOMS), a STEM BEST Program, is a student-centered program that focuses on future ready skills for 20 eighth graders at Okoboji Middle School. The program, modeled after Iowa Big based out of Cedar Rapids, has given students the opportunity to connect curriculum to the community, gain real world experience and practice passion-based learning.

Recently, eight students from the NOBOMS team presented a few of the projects they are working on, their experiences in the program and areas of growth and possible improvement. They began by sharing a list of the exemplary characteristics and skills of NOBOMS students which included “reliable,” “self-directed,” “collaborative” and “professional” to name a few.

The students passionately shared the process of choosing projects, implementation and lessons learned from the experience.

Each year, the program holds an event called Partner Palooza, which allows businesses to interact with students and pitch a problem to be taken on by the students in their yearlong project. Students can ask questions and become more familiar with potential partners before choosing their client. 

After choosing a project, NOBOMS students begin researching, planning and executing the necessary steps to bring the project to life.

One project, “The Hook,” allowed students to work with the Ship Store at Mau Marine to identify ways to get customers in the store—with the goal to do it differently than others.

“We’ve researched social media, branding, marketing, product service and we are planning on doing a social media campaign in May,” said student Ella Kasperbauer.

In the project “Leaving a Legacy 5.0,” a group of students worked with FEH Design and Okoboji Community School District Superintendent Todd Abrahamson to utilize concrete slabs created during the construction of the new Okoboji Middle School to enhance learning opportunities.

These students created a science-themed outdoor classroom and plan to expand the space and add more equipment for STEM classes. “We hope this is a place where students and staff can have experiments and ideas can bloom,” said student Karma Droegmiller.

By implementing these projects, students gain several skills that are relevant and necessary in the real world. “My communication skills have increased tremendously during my time in No Boundaries, especially in large group discussions,” said student Kylan Loken, as she explained how NOBOMS has helped her overcome her fears of communicating.

Student Riley Meyer talked about establishing a growth mindset. “We have one main goal to achieve, and in order to achieve it, we must keep trying and not give up after making mistakes or facing obstacles,” she said.

These students have gone above and beyond in their organization and time management to ensure their success among the team. “Since the beginning of the year we have been learning and now we are basically professionals about this,” said Kasperbauer. The students created universal calendars, utilized team communication platforms, and used the Iteration Cycle daily for group cohesiveness.

“I love this authentic learning because I get to take the skills we learn early on and carry them with me throughout high school and college as well as the rest of my life,” said student Sam Low.

You can follow these students for updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @nobomiddles on all platforms.

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