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Real-world experience

By Staff | Apr 5, 2013

WOLFORD – One after another, groups of students stood in front of a board room full of judges, offering their plans on how to eliminate texting and driving.

It’s a real-life problem, presented in real-world fashion by the groups vying for the job of being hired by the fictional firm Safer Ways.

The “You’re Hired” project, hosted for the second time this school year at Wolford School on March 27, allowed students from five different schools to get a taste of the real world: taking a problem and trying to solve it, then pitching it to the board for Safer Ways.

The purpose of the program is to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills and give a realistic sample of the critical thinking, teamwork, communication and time management used by private sector businesses.

“We’ve been pleased with the way the students have responded to the problems,” said Joel Braaten, a teacher at Wolford. “Their products and the results they’ve come up with have been outstanding in the time they’ve had. Given more time, they could do a lot more. It’s been really gratifying to see them work together.”

Students from Rolette, Rugby, North Star, Starkweather and a pair of Wolford groups got together early on the morning of March 27 and got their assignment.

The initial work included breaking into roles: manager, mechanical and electrical engineers, micro-electronics technicians, market and advertising specialists.

The students developed company names, logos, and a mission statement and started on the task of solving the problem of texting and driving.

After researching the problem, the students did experiments that would prove that the problem exists.

The texting and driving issue was one that all of the students are familiar with.

“Any time you bring it into an issue that affects their lives and something they know a lot about (it is beneficial),” Braaten said. “People my age, texting is kind of a new thing, it’s not an old habit. For these kids, it’s something they’ve grown up with. They understand the problem and I think today helped them see it in a different light.”

After coming up with a solution, the students marketed and advertised their solution to make it appealing, before presenting it to the company’s board, which was made up of professionals with a variety of backgrounds from around the region.

After setting up, the groups had six minutes to make their pitch to the panel, followed by a four-minute question-and-answer session.

“The part that makes it more real, instead of their teachers judging, it’s outside professional people from other walks of life,” Braaten said. “That gives them a different standard to live up to. I think that changes it a little bit, too. It’s not the same, ordinary school project.”

Over 7,000 students in the state from about 20 schools have participated in “You’re Hired,” which is based loosely on the Donald Trump television program “The Apprentice.”

The students came up with ideas ranging from a phone jammer to a phone application designed to not allow texting at more than 15 miles per hour.

The two winning teams came from Rolette and Wolford and Wolford Superintendent Larry Zavada said the program has been a success and the school is considering hosting a third session.

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