Toward the end of the 2015-16 school year, teams of iLead Academy students stood in front of several business leaders and educators to make creative presentafztions, aided by videos and PowerPoints, proposing ways to expand the school’s existing makerspace, an area devoted to hands-on studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects.
The real-world assignment exemplifies the kind of work students do here.
One of several student teams gives a presentation about how they would equip the school’s makerspace expansion, explaining their choices and providing cost figures for each element. The two top teams, as judged by a panel of business and education professionals, won a trip to New York City for the World Maker Faire.
“It’s a customized learning environment,” said Aubrey New, a student who comes from Gallatin County Schools. New had been working in the makerspace on a project that combines woodburning with technology to create signs on slabs of weathered, old wood. She and another student plan to go commercial with the signs this school year.
“We have some really big ideas we’re going to start working on,” New said.
iLead isn’t for every student, “but we want students to have multiple choices in the ways they can learn so that it’s personalized for their learning style,” said Alicia Sells, director of innovation for the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative. “We look for students who can be self-directed.”
New said the first few months in iLead were “really rough” as she got used to the independent system, with its combination of online core content and hands-on, project-based learning. The “free environment and self-pacing is a lot of responsibility,” said student Jason Gray, whose home district is Owen County.
– Madelynn Coldiron