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Visioneering Program offers students a glimpse into future careers

Visioneering Program students dissecting a sheep’s heart.

Visioneering Program students dissecting a sheep’s heart.

Students in the Visioneering Program at DuBray Middle School may discover their future career path – even before graduating from eighth grade.

Those students have dissected a sheep’s heart with the help of medical professionals at Saint Louis University, taken e-missions to save the moon, and acted as surgeons and doctors diagnosing and treating patients.

In its third school year at DuBray Middle, the Visioneering Program has a goal to “significantly influence students’ knowledge, abilities, and motivation related to STEM.”

On Feb. 17, Donna Marx, gifted education teacher at DuBray Middle presented an update of the Visioneering program to the Board of Education. She told board members that the biggest benefit of the program is the positive shift it is creating in students’ attitudes and perceptions about STEM concepts, coursework choices and career options.

“Students are considering careers in these fields that they may not have thought about or been interested in prior to these experiences,” Marx said.

“In addition, they are really seeing that what they do in the classroom does apply to the real world.”

In addition to e-missions, students have taken off-site field trips to the Challenger Learning Center to participate in a moon mission simulation and build rockets, learned the science of racing with race car professionals at the Academy of Racing Science, and utilized Newton’s Laws of Motion by re-engineering a mousetrap car.

“This field trip gave us an opportunity to understand that what we learn in class really does apply to our future jobs,” said Mahima Shahrawat, an eighth-grader who attended the Academy of Racing Science field trip.

And finding a job may be easier for students with a background in STEM. According to the National Math and Science Initiative (2015), “economic data show that 1 million additional STEM graduates will be needed over the next decade to fill America’s economic demand.”

“STEM-based jobs,” it predicted, “are expected to grow 17 percent in the next 10 years, outpacing the overall job growth of 10 percent.”

“One of my driving reasons for teaching middle school students and supporting the Visioneering Program is to connect to students’ interests in and experiences with STEM while they are making key choices,” said industrial technology teacher Chris Donaldson.

From 2012-2015, DuBray Middle has been awarded $43,500 in support of its Visioneering Program. This includes, in part, funding from the Boeing Employees Community Fund of St. Louis, MO; Partners for Progress of Greater St. Charles; St. Charles County Alliance for Business, Learning, and Education; Fort Zumwalt Education Association; Mark Twain Hobby; Classic Images LLC; and Show Me Tees.

At this time, DuBray Middle is the only school in the Fort Zumwalt School District to offer the Visioneering Program.

“The district is working to move this program, at least parts of it, into our other three middle schools,” Jennifer Waters, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said.

In addition to the Visioneering Program, Waters said she anticipates the district will offer some STEM programming this summer at the elementary and middle school levels. She will present STEM options to the board of education at its March 16 meeting.

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