Special to the Herald
The juniors in the Education Pathways program at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center housed on the Cranston High School West campus have been traveling to Gladstone Elementary School every other Friday morning as part of their various internship and teaching experiences in the program.
As juniors, the students rotate through several different weeks-long internships every other day at various locations across the state, preparing and teaching lessons and activities each day, and then visit Gladstone on a biweekly basis. While at Gladstone, the students work with the fourth- and fifth-grade classes on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) activities. During the weeks that the students are not heading to Gladstone School, they use their time to prepare and learn more about the activities.
On a recent Friday morning, the 29 high school students arrived with their laptops in hand, ready to teach a lesson on artificial intelligence, machine learning and data bias to the students through the Code.org website. The students worked cooperatively for an hour, learning about the different aspects and real-life applications of artificial intelligence by watching short videos and playing games, and received an Hour of Code completion certificate at the end of the activities.
According to one of the two educators in the program, Bethany Correia, the MacBook laptops were received by the program courtesy of a Rhode Island Department of Education Career and Technical Education Equipment Fund grant so that every student in the program can have their own device to use for the program.
The lessons are both technology-based and unplugged STEAM lessons, allowing the students to learn on devices and off. For example, one recent week’s activity included building marshmallow and toothpick 3D versions of what the students coded and designed.
“Kids need to see both sides of how that works,” Correia said. “Regardless of whether we are on or off devices, the students (both big and little) are always engaged. This also gives our high school students a look at teaching in the area of technology as opposed to being a traditional classroom teacher and it encourages all of the students to consider these areas as career opportunities in the future.”
Principal Susan Buonanno cites the partnership as a successful one and noted that her elementary students look forward to the visits from the high school students.
“This is such a fabulous opportunity for the students from CACTC to come over and for our students to learn from them,” she said. “I have wanted to create a partnership for years with a high school program and this is one area we don’t always have time to focus on, so it’s good for them to focus on this.”
Jen Cowart is a communications specialist for Cranston Public Schools