Woodlake Union High named finalist in nationwide tech education challenge

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

WOODLAKE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Woodlake Union High School in Tulare County is a finalist team in a U.S. Department of Education technology education challenge created to expand technology education in rural high schools.

With being a finalist in the Rural Tech Project, Woodlake Union High won $10,000 and advances to the next phase of the competition.

The project’s challenge aims to advance technology education, support rural educators and prepare students for the in-demand careers of today and tomorrow.

The Education Department said the Rural Tech Project is designed to empower educators with resources for creating technology education programs customized for their students and local needs.

From June to October, the department invited rural high schools and local education agencies to propose technology education programs that use competency-based distance learning. The project received 63 proposals across 34 states.

Entrants proposed programs that focused on a range of technology skills, from computer science and cybersecurity to robotics and aviation.

Woodlake Union High’s proposal introduces an online aviation program that will prepare students for regional careers or post-secondary degrees, the Education Department said. Students will learn drone operations, geometry, aerodynamic principles, and apply that knowledge through in-person drone flights and simulator work.

“Rural communities have envisioned a breadth of technology education programs. The finalist teams are setting out to equip their students with in-demand skills for rewarding careers across industries,” said Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Scott Stump. “We look forward to supporting the teams as they use flexible learning models to create programs that increase instructional capacity and truly work for their students.”

The finalists were recommended by a panel of judges, including experts from Ford Next Generation Learning, IBM and the University of Arkansas.

In the next phase of the challenge, from January to July 2021, finalists will develop detailed program plans and build partnerships before programs launch, the Education Department said. They will have on-the-ground assistance, expert mentorship and access to virtual resources as they plan, run and refine their programs for two academic years.

Each finalist team will be supported by a community engagement manager, who will assist with on-the-ground setup, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

In summer 2023, teams will document their outcomes and learnings in a final submission.

A judging panel will pick a grand-prize winner to receive an additional $100,000. The Rural Tech Project will compile insights from all finalist teams and share lessons learned as a resource for other communities.

Other finalists include iLead Academy in Carrollton, Kentucky, Louisa County Public Schools in Mineral, Virginia, Premont Independent School District in Premont, Texas and Ravenna High School in Ravenna, Michigan.

To learn more about the Rural Tech Project and meet the finalist teams, visit ruraltechproject.com.

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