CAPSULE: CAPStone Unique Learning Experience
CAPSULE, a capstone project-based learning model, brings the STEM/IT workforce experience to high school students and teachers through industry-driven projects and multimedia production. Materials developed at the Museum of Science and real-world problems solicited from local industry are formulated as projects to be used in a hands-on capstone elective course or in after school activities so that students can relate STEM concepts covered in the classroom to real world applications and learn the engineering design process (EDP). As part of the course, students visit companies to learn first hand about the day-to-day activities of the STEM/IT workforce. They also produce their own media content of their projects. Each year, thirty high school teachers engage in a two week summer professional development workshop with follow-up during the year for a total of 120 hours. Activities are developed for school administrators, guidance counselors and parents to make them aware of the value and importance of STEM/IT careers and opportunities. The project outcomes are (1) pedagogically proven EDP-based curricula that can be replicated at the local, regional and national levels; (2) teachers who connect STEM content to real-world applications; (3) students who discover the real value of STEM subjects; and (4) a means to address Massachusetts' capacity problem to teach engineering and technology in schools. The evaluation plan focuses on the quality of professional development, student learning, and perceptions of STEM careers. Partners include high schools, local industry, Northeastern University engineering research centers and the STEM Education Center, and Boston Museum of Science.