As the Career Education Teacher at Bettendorf Middle School, Gwyn Christopher recognized that her curriculum wasn’t allowing students to explore the STEM-related careers that will be waiting for them when they graduate. When approached by JA of the Heartland (Iowa) to pilot JA Assembling Your Career, she hoped it would fill her STEM gap. 

Her students participated in the JA Assembling Your Career computer module and completed the pre- and post-test. Gwyn was especially impressed that the program helped students identify career options, including those that don’t require a four-year college degree. “Often times,” Gwyn said, “students feel that their only option is to go to college. Not all students are cut out for that.” The program helped students realize that there are good-paying STEM jobs available without a college degree, as long as they get the proper training and certification.

When they finished the program, students were able to articulate why STEM careers and STEM skills are important to their futures, they identified particular STEM fields they want to explore further, and they charted a path to get from where they are now (in eighth grade) to a future STEM career.

Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, Gwyn will continue using JA Assembling Your Career. The students were engaged, enjoyed moving through the program at their own pace, and were energized by the activities. “JA Assembling Your Career is a great program that engages students, while helping them think about STEM-related careers.”