Why Electronics Design Should Be an Elective or Extracurricular Option

Why Electronics Design Should Be an Elective or Extracurricular Option

When we think about how to help kids get the most out of their education today, there are plenty of factors to consider. We think about time management and study habits, how to navigate different kinds of coursework, when to use a tutor or do certain kinds of test preparation, and now even how to go about remote learning. Aside from all of this though, there is also something to be said for considering the actual subjects kids have access to throughout their schooling.

This is by no means a suggestion that we should do away with traditional subjects. It is, however, increasingly apparent that our school system could stand to be modernized with regard to subject material. Not all that much has been done to adapt to the digital world we now live in, and there is a risk that newly vital skills and subjects are not being addressed by older curriculums.

An EdWeek article on modernizing education essentially agreed with this line of thinking, and presented a handful of specific topics that need to be covered more thoroughly — such as entrepreneurship, wellness, and social sciences. We might throw in topics like media literacy and digital security as well. But in this post we want to delve into another subject brought up in the EdWeek place: engineering, and in this case electrical engineering specifically.

There are a number of reasons for electronics design to be infused into more schools and systems as an elective or extracurricular option for kids.

It’s an Interesting “Extra”

We’ve talked about ‘How to Get the Most Out of Your Academic Time’ before, and in doing so mentioned the importance of including extracurricular activities in a calendar. We do see these as part of the total educational process, and would generally encourage students to pursue them. What will be healthiest for our school system long term, however, is if we stop thinking of extracurricular solely as sports, drama, music, and art. As wonderful as activity in all of those areas can be, students should ideally have more opportunities to pursue specific interests.

Electronics design and electrical engineering are among the activities that would likely prove to be interesting alternatives to many kids — and that’s what the consideration should look like. School leaders should think about what might really grab kids’ attention and strive to expand elective and extracurricular options accordingly. And in our increasingly digital age, it’s easy to imagine a lot of kids getting excited about learning how to build circuit boards and program their own electronics.

Real Tech is Accessible

One potential issue with a subject such as this that demands practical application is that schools don’t have the necessary resources. After all, at least in the short term it is all but unrealistic to expect many schools to be able to ramp up their budgets and secure materials for designing circuits in person (though some physics departments will already have some such materials). With this in mind though, it is important to note that much of the electronics design process is now digital — and much of the relevant tech is completely accessible.

Looking through the downloadable programs on Altium, you can quickly see that there is affordable software available that can teach and facilitate electronic engineering. The programs just alluded to specifically represent cutting-edge printed circuit board creation, which is about the most fundamental skill in modern electronics design. Through this or similar software, an instructor can learn the basics and help a class of interested students to progress toward being able to piece together their own functioning electronics from scratch. That’s quite a lot of benefit for a low price, and makes this a feasible extracurricular option even for schools with tight budgets.

Expansive Real-World Possibility

One reason that the topic of modernizing school curriculums is becoming more prevalent is that students need to be prepared to pursue work in modern job markets. And in this regard too, electronics design should be considered strongly. For reference, a MarketWatch piece on electrical engineering services stated earlier this year that this market has been “witnessing unprecedented growth” of late, on the back of increasing demand for tech in service industries.

This is not to say that that trend will always continue, nor that learning electrical engineering fundamentals necessarily leads to work in technology for service industries. The point stands, however, that in today’s world capable electronics designers and engineers tend to be in demand. Thus, students with the freedom to pursue this interest early can get a head start toward an exciting job market full of opportunity.

Ultimately, there are again many potential subjects and electives that could help to modernize our children’s educational options. But for the reasons stated here, we see electronics design as one that should be considered strongly.

Best Practices for Virtual Learning in Middle School

Traditional education methods are not the best choice for everyone. Some students work best outside the classroom in a virtual environment. Middle school is a great time to introduce virtual learning options to students, as this is a time of great change. So, trying out new learning methods to see what works best is ideal. If you and your middle school-aged child choose to try out virtual learning, here are some best practices to follow to get the most out of the experience.

Have a Plan in Place

The best way to fail at virtual learning is to jump in without a solid plan in place. Developing a solid plan before you begin will help to keep you on track. Start by creating a plan for the entire school year and then break it into semesters. Finally, break it down into monthly and weekly plans. When your work is broken into smaller chunks, it will help keep you organized and focused.

Communicate With Your Teachers

Being in a virtual learning environment does not mean you will be completely cut off from school. It is crucial that you remain in regular contact with your teachers. Your teachers are your best source of academic support. As a virtual learner, you will have access to all your teachers’ contact information. Use it as often as necessary. They are there to answer your questions, offer assistance and help solve your problems. Use the resource of your teachers as much as possible to make your virtual learning experience an easy one.

Keep a Notebook

Keeping a notebook is a great way to keep all of your schoolwork organized and easy to find. A great option is to have one large binder with a section for each class. You can take notes and work out problems in the notebook, so you will always know where to find them. Separate all of your subjects with dividers so your work has a specific place to go, and it can be accessed more easily when you need it.

Do Work for all of Your Classes Every Day

In the self-paced environment of virtual learning, it can be easy to procrastinate and let some schoolwork wait until the last minute. But, it is crucial to stay on top of assignments so you do not fall behind. The best way to do that is to get in the habit of doing some work for all of your classes every day. That way, you can ensure that everything stays fresh in your mind, and you do not fall behind in your work.

Following these easy best practices will help you get the most out of your virtual learning experience. For more information about best practices for virtual learning in middle school, contact Make the Grade today.

Help Your Student Excel Academically With mAke the grAde

Parents, we all know that 2020 has proven to be a difficult and challenging time. This is particularly true for families with school-aged children given the drastic changes in the academic world with the transition from the classroom to home-based/virtual/distance/remote learning. Parents were abruptly becoming homeschool teachers while balancing work and life. Further, no one knows exactly what the fall school semester will bring or if the school will be ‘normal’ again anytime soon.

Moving forward, I have heard directly from many parents who are concerned that their children may not be learning and progressing at the expected rate. They ask, “will my child be ready for the next school year and be prepared for the next grade level? At mAke the grAde, we can help parents make sure that your child is on track and excel academically. If you are struggling with teaching certain subjects, we are here to support your child and your family. We offer a variety of services that will help your child improve even in these uncertain times. A very popular service is the Virtual Home Learning Plan which is customized for your particular family circumstances. Learn more by clicking here!

Math and Science Tutoring

mAke the grAde offers math and science tutoring for middle school, high school, and college students to help your child to achieve the best possible grades they can and to ensure that you are currently with the required curriculum and materials. You can be confident your child is learning all of the grade-level material in an efficient and effective manner. 

Academic Assessments

Before jumping into the material, it is crucial to do a current assessment of your child’s current level of knowledge and ability level with a particular subject matter. mAke the grAde can perform a personalized assessment which will determine the level of your child’s knowledge, so we can design a program that will keep your child on track.  We will conduct personal interviews and review recent work. Your child can also use testing materials that we have designed to ascertain his or her level of knowledge. We do assessments on multiple levels including testing, conversations, and a review of historical work and data.

Tailored to Your Child

At mAke the grAde, we design instructional plans that are unique to your child’s needs and skillset. After we determine your child’s starting point, we develop a personalized series of short, medium, and long-term goals. Next, we design a syllabus designed to help your child reach these goals. 

Monitored Progress and Adjustments

At regular intervals, we will evaluate your child’s progress to confirm that he or she is on track. We then make adjustments to the individualized plan as appropriate.

Additional Skills

In addition to math and science, we can help your child become a better overall student. These skills are especially important since the learning environment has changed so dramatically in recent years. We also teach time management, information management, and a time success action plan. These are the 3 core tenets of Dr. Greene’s Amazon bestseller, Maximum Education. help your child do better academically as well, all of which the tools and resources needed can be found in Dr. Greene’s Amazon bestseller, Maximum Education. 

Contact mAke the grAde

Stepping into the shoes of your child’s teacher can be difficult. Let us help you to make sure your child is heading in the right direction. Contact us at mAke the grAde today and don’t forget about our popular service is the Virtual Home Learning Plan which is customized for your particular family circumstances. Learn more by clicking here! 

Don’t forget to check out our mAde the grAde community. It’s the fastest and easiest way to stay up to speed with all things education.

The Four Reasons Why Virtual Learning Is Here to Stay

The Four Reasons Why Virtual Learning
Is Here to Stay

This article was featured in Reverb.chat, a distance learning communication site. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not always reflect the views of Reverb.  This is a link to the original article: https://reverb.chat/blog/educators/four-reasons-virtual-learning-permanent/

Virtual learning is here to stay. Though COVID-19 has considerably accelerated the rollout of virtual / distance learning, the off-site learning option has existed for some time and will continue to expand in the near and long term.

Here’s why.

In the Spring of this year, all elementary, middle, and high schools, and universities were required to transition to distance learning. Of course, this was due to social distancing necessities, and it forced the adoption of virtual learning on a mass level. 

While initially unfavorable, these requirements have been revealing benefits that will lead to the longevity of remote and blended learning.

Distance learning comes with enormous cost savings as there’s less physical structure needed.

There’s more convenience, both for instructors and students at all levels.

Instructors can create and deliver content asynchronously, meaning there’s both more freedom for teachers and students. Students can learn at their own schedule, and teachers can teach on theirs. 

With asynchronous teaching comes a broader student and instructional base. Schools are not limited to only the students in the classroom and can sell coursework nationally or internationally.

All of this combines to make virtual learning an extremely appealing option and alternative to the traditional classroom.

A list of the reasons why virtual learning is here to stay: cost savings, convenience, asynchronous teaching and learning, more reach for schools, and more selection for students.

At my educational support company, as late as March 13th, just before the COVID-19 outbreak, about 65% of our students were served in-house at our facility, and 35% were online. By April 1st, 100% had transitioned online using our distance learning technology.

In a one-on-one setting, virtual / distance learning and tutoring are very effective. Students are given the attention and teaching protocol that works best for them to succeed.

Virtual education on a large classroom level, particularly with a highly heterogeneous population of students, is more challenging, and some disadvantages are well-publicized.

There’s less instructor to student interaction, more obstacles for students to receive answers to questions or support, and technology challenges. Not everyone has access to high-speed internet or sufficient technology to host online learning.

There’s also increased difficulty policing online cheating and giving fair exams. Students taking exams and assessments remotely lack the security and oversight that would occur in a classroom, so cheating and other dishonest practices are more common. 

Even so, for most situations, the positive characteristics of virtual learning outweigh the downsides.

As students, training and instructional centers, and academic institutions become more accustomed to distance protocols and standards, the implementation of proper virtual learning will increase and continue to grow. Technology will also improve over time, fixing the current downsides, and building a larger and larger segment of this instructional methodology.


No Online SAT this fall – or ever?

The ETS announced that there will be no online / home based SAT this fall .. September 2020.

Their reason was simply that they did not feel that the test takers would universally have access to 3+ hours of strong reliable internet.

Personally I suspect that there were other reasons as well… including the fact that many students taking the AP exams (online/virtually) in May had access issues and issues submitting their scores.

Where do you stand on this issue?

Would you like to be able to take the SAT at home?


The 60 Day Academic Challenge!

Are you ready for the challenge?


60 days.. (that’s all).. 15 minutes a day

to become great with:

  1. academic remediation and academic acceleration
  2. academic habits
  3. maximum education skills = time management, information management, daily success actions
  4. read
  5. get physical
  6. accountability




How can I Make Sure That my Child Will Stay Current With Their Work During Virtual Distance Learning?

Schools have been closed all around the country until the end of the school year in June because of COVID-19 and the shut in mandates.  This has created challenges for students, and parents, that were unanticipated and unprecedented.  Parents and students are now feeling the pressure to cope with and to adapt to home based virtual learning.

In my tutoring practice I am getting feedback that many students are struggling to adjust to this instructional style and presentation and it is difficult, in many cases, for parents to become de-facto teachers so they can help their children.

For parents, here are strategies for helping children focused and productive so they will be successful and avoid falling behind with the curriculum.

Keeping Your Child on Schedule With Their Schoolwork

Typically, when some extenuating circumstance has forced local schools to close, most people go into a ‘snow day’ mentality. Where students, parents and teachers treat it as if it were just a regular day off from school. For many, the first week of quarantine was thought of as an extended snow day, a vacation of sorts, as we all became more aware of the severity of the situation, everyone had to accept the new ‘normal’ and focus on doing what we all need to do to maintain personal success. Click here to set up a personalized learning plan for your family.

Set a Daily Schedule 

First, create a schedule. Encourage your children to have an active role in deciding what hours of the day they will be working. This will give them a greater feeling of control and ‘buy in’.  When is ‘school in’ and ‘school out’?  When is ‘recess’? When is lunch time?  More importantly, once you have a schedule worked out, make sure you stick to it so they don’t fall out of habit.

Get Them Organized 

What do your notebooks look like? Can you find all the papers you need when you need them? This is a good time to get organized and to create a system moving forward. Be sure that you have a system of managing the work that you need to do.  I recommend the Maximum Education system which I have taught to thousands of students.


 How to Help Them Rebound if They Fall Behind

Be sure to keep up with school work and do not allow your child to fall behind.  When a child has numerous outstanding / late assignments it creates a stressful situation.  It also requires extra time and effort to catch up and get par. This is also way having a daily routine / schedule and following the schedule are so important.

Contact Their Teachers

Communicate with teachers by email or other channel.  Let them know if your child is not doing well, or is struggling to stay pace with the assignments, or if they are challenged to learn by the online instructional style.  You can ask if their teacher(s) can offer an extension on due dates, one-on-one lessons, clarifications on the curriculum, or any additional resources that might be useful.  More often teachers are will help when you reach out and ask because they will try to do what they can to help their students succeed.

Get Them Organized 

What do your notebooks look like? Can you find all the papers you need when you need them? This is a good time to get organized and to create a system moving forward. Be sure that you have a system of managing the work that you need to do.  I recommend the Maximum Education system which I have taught to thousands of students.

Stay Social and Make Time For Leisure

Next, kids work best in social environments. Being with friends helps encourage them to focus, stay on task, and keep up with the curriculum. Therefore, try to encourage them to get in touch with their friends over the internet and, when appropriate, work on assignments together and encourage group study.  Children to do associate their homes with school.  They consider home as the place where they can unwind so having to complete all of their schoolwork at home will likely feel odd to them. At times, let them have enough fun so that they don’t feel imprisoned in their own homes.  You should not put education on the back burner, but when planning the schedule be sure to allow time for snacks, exercise, playtime, electronics and TV (in other words – their usual day at home).

It’s chaotic these days and it may stay this way for some time.  It is a huge adjustment for students. Home based education is something that children and parents was unexpected and sudden and something everyone was not prepared for.  The transition may be difficult but is facilitated by having a consistent plan and working that plan every day.  With the right strategy and a little cooperation between children and their parents everyone can succeed so Click here to set up a personalized learning plan for your family.