UTICA (WWJ) – How do you make sure kids are prepared for college and the high-tech jobs of the future? At the Center For Science and Industry in the Utica Community Schools, students get a hands-on approach to learning subjects like Mechatronics, Engineering, and Digital Media. And students are encouraged to come up with their own solutions, instead of relying on the teacher.
“Our unofficial school motto is ‘Figure it out,” said Lead Teacher Jill Rilley. “We want the kids to come up with the answers, instead of us telling them the answers and having them repeat it back to us.”
Students in 9th through 12 grade attend the school for half of their class day, and spend the other half at their traditional high school. Who does the school appeal to?
“We tend to get a lot of those kids who like to tinker, who like to take apart your computer at home and try to improve it,” said Rilley. Rilley incorporates English into the curriculum in creative ways, including having the students write a short story about a game character they have created in their digital media class. Rilley says the goal at the school is “to make learning fun, and bring joy back into the classroom.”
For students like 10th grader Natalie Magda, C.S.I was a perfect fit. “I was always interested in building things,” said Magda. “I wanted to build circuits and go into electronics. When I was younger, I used to take pens apart and figure out how the spring works. That’s why when I heard about the C.S.I. program I was really interested in that.”
330 students are currently enrolled at C.S.I. in Utica. And the program seems to be a big success so far. More than 98 per cent of the first 120 graduates of the program have gone on to college.