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High Schools Connect STEM Classes Across State Lines with Fuze

Students from two public high schools in North Dakota and Minnesota are working together to design a prototype mini golf course, despite the fact that they are separated by nearly 300 miles. The teams meet regularly, face-to-face to share and discuss designs thanks to Fuze. It’s just one example of a nationwide effort to increase curriculum around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

STEM-related career opportunities are on the rise. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates STEM jobs will outpace non-STEM fields by double through 2018 and that there will be more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs in the U.S. by that date. Yet, U.S. Department of Education estimates only 16% of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM-related career.

President Obama has outlined clear priorities for STEM education to help American students “move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math,” and has called for 100,000 new, qualified STEM teachers over the next 10 years and asked higher education institutions to graduate an additional one million students with STEM majors. Currently, the U.S. is ranked 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations.

We were able to sit down with Mitch Meyer a science teacher from Wahpeton Public Schools in southeastern North Dakota, and Bill Kuschel, Industrial Technology Leader from Waseca Junior/Senior High School in southern Minnesota to learn more about their innovative program.

High Schools Connect STEM Classes Across State Lines with Fuze

Tell us a bit about your program and what you are trying to achieve:

Mitch: We are a public high school in a southeastern North Dakota town called Wahpeton. Our school started the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program because they understand that STEM represents is a high need area. We want our students to get a head start in these fields. Part of the course curriculum is “team building.” We are collaborating with a school in Waseca, MN and working on the student’s team building skills using video conferencing (Fuze) and other forms of technology to develop a prototype mini golf course.

Bill: We are a public high school in the southern Minnesota town of Waseca. We have begun to implement Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering into our curriculum this year. As a part of the curriculum, one of my classes has been collaborating with the Wahpeton high school using of video conferencing (Fuze), emailing, texting and cell phones to work together to design a prototype mini-golf course.

High Schools Connect STEM Classes Across State Lines with Fuze

Why did you choose Fuze? How did you come across Fuze?

Mitch: I came across Fuze as a recommendation from my principal Ned Clooten. He had used the program before and said it was a great tool with a friendly user interface for communication that takes up little bandwidth.

Bill: I hadn’t heard of Fuze until Mitch suggested that we look into it as another way to have our students communicate as they work on their project. We found that Fuze was a little easier to work with than other similar programs and it didn’t take up large amounts of space on our computer servers.

How do you use Fuze today? Have you discovered new uses for it?

Mitch: Our main goal in using Fuze was for our students to be able to communicate for about 15-20 minutes, discussing the design of the project. At first, our students were solely using it as a way to communicate but soon found out that they were able to do much more. Now, they are using that program to share documents, share screens to trouble shoot issues, and use the “white board” tool to share ideas to make a successful design.

Bill: Our main use is to have students connect in daily 15-20 minute video conference/meetings with their teammates in ND from our classrooms. Students have used it for video conferencing, but they have also found that “white board,” screen sharing and file sharing are wonderful tools for working together, sharing ideas and planning out successful projects.

High Schools Connect STEM Classes Across State Lines with Fuze

How is Fuze making an impact? What do you like best about Fuze?

Mitch: Fuze is allowing us to share concepts and design ideas in a time-effective manner, because of its user-friendly interface and many communication tools. It has also allowed us a way to work on our “team-building techniques” that many companies require for productive employees.

Bill: Fuze is making an impact simply because of its ease of use and flexibility with different media formats. I can’t imagine trying to complete a project of this nature without a tool like Fuze, as it allows my students to share their concepts, designs and ideas in a highly visual and time-effective manner. My students commented that they liked working with Fuze because is was so easy to use.

“I can’t imagine trying to complete a project of this nature without a tool like Fuze as it allows my students to share their concepts, designs and ideas in a highly visual and time-effective manner.”

- Bill Kirschell, Industrial Technology Leader, Waseca Junior/Senior High School.

Do you have any tips or advice for other Fuze users?

Mitch: My tip for someone wanting to use Fuze is to go on their website and go through their Tutorial. It’s a great introduction to the software and shows you how to do everything! When you are done, set up an instant meeting and play around with all they have to offer. The interface is easy to understand and allows you do so much!

Bill: Do a little experimentation with Fuze to try the different tools and formats that are available. A little pre-planning went a long way toward success in my classroom. After only one or two meetings, my students became very efficient in setting up and managing their time within a Fuze meeting.

See our customer blog to learn about how other organizations are using Fuze.

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