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Sparking a Connection Between Ottumwa Businesses and Students

Sparking a Connection Between Ottumwa Businesses and Students Main Photo

15 Feb 2021


News, Found Article, Blog

This article originally appeared on Greater Ottumwa Partners In Progress and was created for Greater Ottumwa Partners In Progress by Golden Shovel Agency.

The education world is in the midst of a transition, trending away from traditional classroom instruction to methods that offer students real-world learning experiences. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Ottumwa High School, where its SparkTank program seeks to connect students with local businesses and organizations.

"We are looking for new ways to engage students in authentic learning and connect with real-world experiences," said Jeff Kirby, Director of Innovative Programs in the Ottumwa School District.

SparkTank is a project-based experience at the high school, with program segments in Engineering & Design, Manufacturing, Communication & Technology, Construction, and "Ignite," an attempt to introduce younger students to people skills. Local businesses provide real projects for the students to participate in real work situations. Ultimately, the SparkTank experience is designed to guide students towards a career goal after graduation, for both college degree programs and skilled trade paths.

Beyond Technical Skills

Local businesses offer real-world projects for students to become involved with as they learn about different careers.

"I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do after high school, but I always enjoyed engineering," said Noah Hicks, one student who went through the program. "Working on actual projects and having hands-on experiences with other engineers has really motivated me to pursue an engineering career."

Beyond technical skill development, SparkTank also offers students the opportunity to learn how businesses operate, from developing project deadlines to meeting them via collaboration and teamwork.

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