According to the US Department of Labor, employment is projected to increase by 11.5 million over the next decade. Healthcare, community and social service and computer and mathematical occupations are all expected to see faster than average growth by the year 2026. No doubt the job market will be vastly different thanks to rapidly changing and advancing technology.
Today’s Episcopal Middle Schoolers will be a part of this new and exciting workforce. While students today may simply have fun learning activities such as coding and robotics, these skills will likely prove invaluable in the future, regardless of their chosen career field. School Instigator and Design Studio Coordinator Betsy Minton continues to find opportunities to introduce students to these skills, whether it’s through the Introduction to Coding class or special groups that build together during or after school. All of these opportunities are preparing students for the future and instilling four real world skills for today and tomorrow.
1. Problem solving.
Episcopal students are required to take an Intro to Coding class as part of enrichment in fifth grade. Minton says this is an ideal time to go more in depth because by fifth grade students have been exposed to the math concepts needed to truly understand and appreciate coding. She says coding actually provides the students with a practical application of these math skills and the Design Studio offers them hands-on experience.
Students are solving coding problems using the latest and greatest coding software. Minton says the class is generalized to provide students with exposure to a range of programs and coding challenges that require a breadth of knowledge to solve the problem.
2. Learning through failure.
Robotics and coding are learned through a long process of trial and error. Minton says that students feel a satisfying sense of accomplishment after working through several iterations and getting it right. This type of learning helps them develop the critical thinking strategies to prevail in the face of challenges. Such skills will serve them well as future physicians, engineers or even artists and designers.
3. Time management.
No matter the career, time management is a must. As students are gearing up for robotics competitions these skills are put to the test. Students must learn to plan ahead to ensure their devices are ready for action on the big day. They must also be ready during an event to make quick decisions in the event of a mechanical failure or problem.
Middle School students recently participated in the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit event and they are now gearing up for a workshop at the upcoming Red Stick Festival in April. Both events required students to plan ahead and ensure tasks are completed in a timely manner.
Most professionals function as part of a team. Being a part of a robotics team helps students learn team dynamics such as being accountable to each other and dividing tasks among team members. Robotics team members also enjoy a sense of camaraderie and friendship created as a result of finding a group with common interests and goals. In addition, thanks to the PreK-3 through Upper School model of Episcopal, Middle School students also benefit from the mentorship of the upperclassmen.
On May 4th, Middle School students will compete in the first-ever Middle School Battle Bots tournament. Students are working hard to prepare their devices and best their opponent. Along the way, they’re developing the skills they’ll someday use as adults. While there’s no way to know what job they’ll have in 2026, we hope the skills gained from their time at Episcopal will serve them well.