In the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, I stress the importance of laying the groundwork for community and global partnerships to help prepare students for future careers. Mostly kids don't even know these careers exist; what it is they're working toward? They learn in isolation.
To compound the problem, K-12 teachers are strapped to standardized instruction. What time do they have to run around setting up partnerships with S.T.E.M professionals? Where do they find these people? How can they get them to the classroom to talk to students about their careers? This is a huge issue.
One of the many resources and links I share in the book solves this problem in a big way. The Open Source Teaching Project helps students make connections to real-life scientists and engineers, to people working in all kinds of careers and all kinds of jobs. They make use of digital tools to post interviews, conducted by college students, with experts in a variety of fields who share their passions and the realities of their day-to-day lives. They talk about what students can do now to prepare for jobs of the future. The face-to-face interviews, all posted on the website, are free.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals answer questions like: How did you become interested in this field? What kinds of tools do you use to carry out your work? What advice do you have for K-12 students who are interested in your subject area? What do you most enjoy about your job?
Each interview is about 30 minutes long and takes place at the interviewee's place of business. There are hundreds of interviews on-hand and one of the best parts of the program is that it includes guidelines for teachers on how to integrate these conversations into the curriculum.
The project benefits both college students and K-12 students. The college students who are conducting the interviews get a first-hand look and a deeper understanding of their field of interest. K-12 students have access to scholars and professionals; they have an opportunity to see the real-world relevance of what they are doing in school.