Beginning this fall, middle school students had the opportunity to take several new elective courses designed to ensure that our students are better prepared for the 21st century. Why the change? As educators, it is our job to match what students will need to be productive citizens in the 21st century. The changes align middle school curriculum to the new common core curriculum. When asked why the new electives are critical for the middle school level, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services, Faith Dahlquist explains that, “The new middle school electives truly support our District’s alignment with the new common core standards and better prepare our students for college or career.”
Some of the new middle school curriculum is based on curriculum from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) - a leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the United States. STEM education is at the heart of today’s high-tech, high-skill global economy. For America to remain economically competitive, our next generation of leaders, the students of today, must develop the critical-reasoning and problem-solving skills that will help make them the most productive in the world. STEM education programs, like the one offered by Project Lead the Way and at the District’s middle schools, engage students in activities, projects, and problem-based learning, which provides hands-on classroom experiences. Students create, design, build, discover, collaborate and solve problems while applying what they learn in math and science. Students are also exposed to STEM fields through professionals from local industries who supplement the real-world aspect of the curriculum through mentorships and workplace experiences (www.pltw.org). New middle school electives include courses in Digital Literacy, Navigating Informational Sources, Digital Authorship, Automation & Robotics, and Entrepreneurship.
Like other middle school students across the District, Hubble eighth graders are enjoying their experiences in the “Shark Tank,” which is officially known as the Entrepreneurship class. Entrepreneurship students have been working in teams to develop start-up business ventures where they research business models and review case studies in order to collaboratively create their business ventures. At the end of the semester, groups will present an “eight-minute pitch” to their classmates in the hopes that their start-up venture earns their classmate’s “capital,” similar to the popular TV show, Shark Tank. Hubble teacher Patrick Bresnahan partnered with Illinois Math and Science Academy and is using their enterprise web platform, CoolHub, which provides online tools for student collaboration such as blogging, wiki, and video conferencing. Several student teams will have an opportunity to present their business ideas at IMSA’s PowerPitch contest with a chance to win cash prizes.
Some of the business ventures that Hubble student teams are developing include: compare.com – a website that provides adolescent consumers with product information by utilizing webscraping software to execute product comparisons; iHub - a mobile app that enables students to integrate their various aspects of school such as calendars, grades, chat rooms, and schedules; a green/organic coffee shop; and an online store selling custom designed shoelaces.
So what do our students think about the Entrepreneurship class? As student Rachel Diomar stated, “I like the class a lot because I get to learn a lot about business and what I’ll need when I’m older.” Nick Nusgart added, “It provides an experience that is unlike other classes. You work with a team and each person specializes in something different.” Be on the lookout- you just might see some of these student-created products in a store or on the internet soon.