Work-based learning is a phrase coined by the U.S. Department of Labor to label learning experiences for students in a workplace setting. The STEM BEST Program is one of many work-based learning, or what STEM leaders call career-linked learning, opportunities available through the STEM Council.
Becky Reints, facilitator of the STEM BEST Program model No Boundaries Middle School (NOBOMS), shared her experience:
Since becoming a STEM BEST Program, it has drastically changed the trajectory of 8th grade students participating in the No Boundaries Middle School program. The community partnerships, student growth and paradigm shifts the vision of what we thought No Boundaries would be and what you see today is pretty remarkable. On any given day you will see students leading partner meetings, working on their Trello boards discussing tasks that need to be completed, students celebrating the small wins they’ve made in their project and students off-site at the Space daily or in the community. Partners continue to come back year after year to take part in the experience and see the growth of the students.
Tyler Riley, FEH Design Vice President and partner states, “Each year I am so impressed on how they worked toward their strengths. Each student had a different skill set and they worked together and contributed to help hone the project.”
Students grow tremendously in their universal constructs (critical thinking, complex communication, collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, productivity, accountability and creativity) not to mention their first impressions and confidence that help them in high school and with their first jobs.
“Because of NOBOMS, I am so much more independent and I take the initiative in my learning,” says student Emery Rubis. “It’s an amazing sight to see! We are so thankful for our community, the Okoboji Community School District and STEM BEST for creating this opportunity for the students!”
The STEM BEST Program is inviting proposals for new work-based learning opportunities that focus on high-demand skills. For more information, visit https://iowastem.org/STEMBEST.