Provided by Manassas City Public Schools
This school year at Metz Middle School, Dan Krotzer kicked off his new Invention and Innovation class, where each of his 26 students are treated as mature innovators working in a simulated nine-to-five style workday. Krotzer’s students are using the We Build It Better Program, an 18-week curricular experience that engages middle school students in advanced manufacturing, and STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning environments, to introduce students to a wider range of tech career paths.
“Students tend to rush into class because no one wants to be late to ‘work,’” said Krotzer, one of the instructors delivering the We Build It Better Program for Manassas City Public Schools. “Students are really excited to participate. The program is inspiring them to be inventors by teaching them how to design something completely new and build it using state-of-the art tools.”
Manassas City Public Schools is the first division in Virginia to integrate the We Build it Better STEAM middle school education program into its classroom curriculum, and Metz Middle School marks the 250th school to participate in the program across the U.S. and UK. Airbus and Amazon Web Services (AWS) donated the We Build it Better kits and curriculum to Manassas City Public Schools, as well as to Prince William County Schools, who are using We Build it Better as an after-school program, as part of their efforts to support STEAM education in local communities.
Airbus, AWS, Flight Works Alabama, and Snap-on Incorporated collaborated on the We Build It Better program, given careers in STEAM are likely to be among the most in-demand when the children enter the workforce, but the wide array of opportunities in manufacturing technology, aerospace, data centers, and other technical careers are not traditionally introduced to younger students.
“We Build it Better introduces students to a new way of thinking about their future careers and is intended to better equip them with the skills and knowledge to thrive in a future workforce,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO, Airbus Americas, Inc. “For Airbus, we are working to build a strong, knowledgeable design and manufacturing team in our operations across the U.S. and around the world. In our view, that can best be achieved when we help engage students early in their education and help them see the value of having these skills and hands-on knowledge as they progress toward a career.”
“AWS is thrilled to have collaborated on the We Build it Better program, which offers a fresh new approach to hands-on interdisciplinary STEAM programming,” said Blair Anderson, Director of Public Policy for AWS. “Students become aware of traditional careers at a young age but are often not as aware of the full breadth of jobs in tech beyond software development and coding. Introducing students to a more comprehensive array of STEAM concepts through We Build It Better broadens their boundaries of what’s possible when it comes to tech careers.”
“The City works very hard to foster collaborative relationships between education, government, and the business community. We believe that industry-led career and technical education, supported by programs like We Build It Better, prepares our youth of today for the jobs of tomorrow,” added Manassas Mayor Michelle Davis-Younger.
We Build It Better provides educators with curriculum and support materials packaged in a series of seven innovation kits which include high-end equipment and tools to allow hands-on learning. The program, delivered over 18 weeks, shows students techniques that help build new technical and soft skill sets (including measurement, product design, electrical wiring, fiber optics, and coding), and provides hours of curriculum and activities. The curriculum has achieved certification under federal, state, and local STEAM standards and meets the requirements for federal and state funding in several jurisdictions.
We Build it Better was launched nearly two years ago by Flight Works Alabama in partnership with Airbus, the state of Alabama, Alabama Power Foundation, AWS, Snap-on Incorporated, and Mott MacDonald. By the end of this calendar year, the program will have been launched in more than 250 schools in the U.S. and UK, reaching more than 32,500 students.
Based on the success of We Build it Better, and requests from educators for a program for younger children, a new program called We WILL Build It Better aimed at elementary-age students will launch in October 2023.
For more information about We Build It Better and We WILL Build It Better, go here.