A second goal under the Student Learning focus in our strategic plan is that we want to engage every student in opportunities that create effective problem solvers, preparing them for leadership in work and life.
This goal of creating effective problem solvers goes back to the questions we were asking two years ago at our traveling board meetings.
We asked: "What are the skills that our students need to be successful in today’s United States economy?” The feedback you gave us lined up with the research done by ETS (Educational Testing Service) that named five core competencies that were needed to be successful in today’s job market:
1) the ability to solve problems,
2) fluid intelligence - the ability to see patterns and notice trends
3) achievement/innovation – the ability to apply what you know to an unseen situation
5) the ability to work in teams
We need to equip our students with these competencies and equip them to be able to work in a global economy that is ethnically and culturally diverse. The Innovation Hub will help us do this because it will help students move beyond theory to practice in an environment that helps grow the five competencies.
For example, the Paducah Area Technology Center (PATC) welding class has completed a truckable barge for delivery to Paducah Barge Company. Paducah Barge supplied the design and materials, while the welding class completed the assembly of the barge. Proceeds from the sale of the barge will be put back into the program.
The truckable barges are generally used for marine construction projects and marina platforms. These units are typically 40'L x 10'W x 4'H and weigh about 20,000 pounds. They are normally fabricated of heavily reinforced ¼” steel plate. Two units can be loaded onto one flatbed truck and can be delivered almost anywhere. Once the units reach their destination, they are placed in the water and pinned together to form a platform large enough to support whatever load is required – loading equipment; cranes and bridge construction equipment. So already we’re seeing movement toward projects that have real world applications.
Another example of how we might equip our students to move from theory to practice as they develop the five competencies is the blending of welding, art & design, and auto body fiberglass to create a sculpture, which would connect to the Paducah Economic Development plan to target the business cluster of “Creative Industries”, which includes artists and artisan crafts.
A third goal under the Student Learning focus in our strategic plan is to build and align systems that put students in charge of their own learning and measuring individual growth. A metaphor that may help us catch a glimpse of how the Innovation Hub can help with this goal is to imagine it as a library with the tools, materials and guidance needed to help students explore their interests in art design, technology, and engineering. When students have the opportunity to pursue what they are interested in, they take more responsibility for their own learning. When that happens the chances for student success go up.
Through the Innovation Hub we hope to help students build a vision for their life. The Innovation Hub puts our students in an environment with the tools and resources in Forward Paducah economic development strategy workforce clusters. The Innovation Hub allows students the flexibility to explore their interests in the context of the Forward Paducah workforce clusters (advanced manufacturing, creative industries, health care, professional services, and river industry).
Like a three - legged race, meshing the student learning goals in the new environment of the Innovation Hub may not be pretty in the beginning. There will be a steep learning curve as we learn how to make our student learning goals work in a new environment. But as we learn how to coordinate and synchronize our three Student Learning goals, success will come.