MCHENRY, IL – Featuring an innovative and successful STEM program that teaches 21st-century learning skills in a unique way, Ben Eielson Junior/Senior High School, located on Alaska’s Eielson Air Force Base, is the grand-prize winner of the fifth annual Follett Challenge.
The school, part of Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and named after famous aviator, Carl Ben Eielson, earns a $60,000 prize in Follett products and services, plus a celebration May 6 at their school.
The school’s winning entry, “Aiming High at Eielson” documents how the students, many of whom are children of military personnel stationed at the base, participate in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) pilot program that gives them the opportunity to work with and learn from U.S. Air Force personnel.
Students in grades 7-8 are provided with specialized career training aligning with STEM lessons being taught in class. They have the opportunity to learn about aircraft maintenance on fighter jets, intern at the medical and dental clinic on base, work at the base fire station or pharmacy, shadow builders on construction sites, and do pre-apprenticeship at the two elementary schools on base.
“Students are able to partner with their military and civilian mentors and learn skills related to each job,” said George Cromer, Jr., USAF School Liaison Officer, Airman and Family Readiness Center. “All students receive hands-on instruction and receive the opportunity to demonstrate what they have mastered in the skill. This program also provides students with future employment opportunities within the military, government, or private industry sector, or to continue with post-secondary educational opportunities.”
Joe Deutsch, Career and Technical Education Coordinator for Eielson, said he and the school appreciate the opportunity Follett has afforded with the contest. “Follett’s support and faith in us means everything,” Deutsch said. “This is a generous gift and one we appreciate so much; it will allow us to better serve these students and prepare them for a bright future.”
Last month, the Follett Challenge – sponsored by Follett – announced Eielson was one of three semifinalists along with Quest Elementary School in Hilton, N.Y., and Broughal Middle School in Bethlehem, Pa. The other two schools each earn $30,000 in Follett products and services.
“The program at Eielson is the epitome of innovative teaching and learning,” said Britten Follett, Vice President of Marketing for Follett School Solutions, who has spearheaded the Follett Challenge since its debut. “The way the school collaborates with the Air Force community and the exposure the students have to real STEM lessons in the workplace is an inspiring path to deeper learning.”
In seeking the most innovative K-12 programs teaching 21st-century skills to students, the Follett Challenge asks entrants to complete an online application and submit a video describing their program. The judges seek applications illustrating critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration.
For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit www.follettchallenge.com.