At the Fair

Today was the School Choice Fair! 5th and 8th graders, along with their families, made the trek to Poly High School to learn about all the different high school and middle school options that Baltimore City Public Schools has to offer.

My school, Patterson High School, was there in full force. Our principal, academy principals, department heads, career and technology education (CTE) teachers , and students showed up to recruit new students to our school. One of our engineering students arrived at the Poly auditorium at 8:00 this morning, before any teachers or administrators! [The fair started at 9:00.] He helped set up and stayed all day promoting the school and our engineering program.

Our design technology teacher had created a booth/display with space for pictures, flyers, and a rear-projected screen. All the CTE programs and pathways had sent photos that had been compiled into a slideshow that would be projected onto that screen. Unfortunately, there were no electrical outlets available into which to plug the projector! Quite low-tech for a school named Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Our booth at the school choice fair

Our booth at the school choice fair

Luckily, many programs at Patterson had sent along brochures, large photos, posters, and display boards (the tri-fold type that reminds me of science fairs). Additionally: our EMT program had a CPR dummy and stretcher; our nail technology program had mannequin hands; and for our engineering program we brought robots, a bridge, a CNC-milled jewelry box, a bottle car, and a circuit board — all created by students.

I had a good time talking with parents and students about our school, its four career-themed academies, and our PLTW engineering pathway in particular. I encouraged interested kids to solve arithmetic problems that would move a calculator robot forward (or, if you get the question wrong, backward). I showed off our various props. And I advertised the other academies and CTE programs too, since Patterson has many great pathways to offer.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, we get to sell our programs on a smaller scale, to our school’s ninth graders, at the CTE Expo. At the end of their ninth grade year, students at our school apply to the CTE pathway(s) of their choice. We are putting on this expo to showcase the various pathway options and recruit students. Wednesday is also our school’s open house (from 9:00-3:00), where middle schoolers and their parents are invited in to visit during the school day and shadow students in their classes.  So today was just the start to a whole week of school and CTE choice!



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5 responses to “At the Fair

  1. It strikes me as strange that an engineering track has to recruit students. Here, if any school had the resources to mount such a program, they’d probably have to make it lottery-entry to allocate such a scare resource (as has been done with the AP-intensive charter school, which has a less than 20% chance of winning the lottery to get it).

    • nyates314

      Although right now we are the only school in Baltimore to have an engineering pathway certified by the national Project Lead the Way (PLTW) organization, there are six other Baltimore high schools that have begun offering PLTW courses and are working towards that certification. Also, Poly (the magnet school where the fair was held) has a long-standing (non-PLTW) engineering program. So recruitment is still competitive.

      Finally, since the engineering pathway at Patterson is still fairly new (6yrs, certified 2yrs ago), and BCPSS is a big school system, many students, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors don’t yet know about our program. Today’s fair was a way of getting the word out.

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