At a Glance
Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School (BAVTS) hosts an innovative recruitment day for middle school students to teach them about the opportunities available at the CTC. To engage students and to tie together the various activities of the day, the faculty focuses the event on a “STEM Versus the Zombie Apocalypse” theme.
For the past two years, BAVTS has hosted the one-day, recruitment event to inform eighth grade students, especially female students and those from its lower-enrolled districts, about its CTE programs. The event is scheduled towards the end of the school year and is funded through six thousand dollars in STEM Academies grant money.
To initially plan the event, administrators invited faculty members to attend an exploratory meeting during which they brainstormed possible options and activities to interest students and keep them engaged. Out of this discussion, the faculty on an emergency response to a zombie apocalypse. This theme allowed them to coordinate relevant activities across several programs while appealing to the mindset and interests of middle school students.
On the day of the event, which runs from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., students first attend an orientation session during which they receive their team assignments and supplies. (Students are divided into eight teams). Next, the teams attend classroom sessions where instructors present hands-on lessons with activities that encourage teamwork and problem solving:
- Health Careers: Homemade Bug Repellant
- Math Integration: Ratios, Proportion, and Spread of Infection
- Carpentry: Shelter (first year), Urban Garden (second year)
- Electronics Technology: Solar Cell Phone Charger
- Technology Integration: PSA
- Culinary Arts: Urban Garden and Lunch
- Academy of Medical Sciences: Hands-on CPR
Through these sessions, students “learn how to prevent, survive and make others aware of a fast-spreading virus through science, technology, engineering and math activities.” (See the 2017 Integrated Learning Conference session description on this practice.) BAVTS students assist the eighth graders with all tasks. After the classroom sessions, the eighth grade teams reconvene for a closing session during which time they complete a post-survey.
To add to the excitement of the day, BAVTS provides students with transportation to the CTC in limousine buses. Students also receive t-shirts and Zombie Response Team bags or backpacks that hold the supplies they will need to complete the activities.
BAVTS sends a promotional brochure to the participating middle schools and, if needed, staff members speak to middle school classes to advertise the event. Participation in the recruitment day is limited to 40 students, 20 students from each of the two sending districts. If more than 20 students are interested in attending the sending schools determine who should attend based on attendance and behavior. Enrolling female students is a priority.
BAVTS administrators and faculty members have learned several important lessons from planning and implementing two recruitment days, and they recommend CTCs interested in replicating their program address these challenges: It is important to coordinate schedules with sending districts. Also, it is useful to narrow down the activities offered during the day so that students receive thorough and focused information and are engaged throughout the day rather than becoming overwhelmed with too much information. BAVTS staff also suggest focusing on career opportunities so that students understand the long-term benefits of attending the CTC.
BAVTS plans to continue hosting a recruitment day. It may need to identify and use another source of funding as the first two years of the program were funded by a grant. Director Adam Lazarchak believes it will be possible to use local funds to support the program.
According to survey results, most students reported that they learned new information about STEM careers and were considering enrolling in a BAVTS program after attending the recruitment day.
Director Lazarchak reports that 10 out of the 41 students who attended the recruitment day now attend BAVTS, and two of those (20 percent) are female.
A PowerPoint presentation of this activity is provided.
Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School
Adam Lazarchak, Executive Director