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Students Ready for IChallengUth

Six Otsego Middle School students are taking the challenge of a real industry problem this week at the IChallengUth 5-day summer program. During this program, incoming 7th - 8th grade students work in a team at a local business or organization to solve a real-world issue they are facing. Participating students get the unique opportunity to explore innovative local businesses, learn new skills, and meet new friends. The program culminates in a presentation at the end of the week in which the students pitch their solution to the local business.

OMS STEM teacher, Dave McCallum, and Allegan Area Educational Service Agency’s Science Consultant Amy Oliver, will facilitate the week. Otsego has teamed up with Parker Hannifin Corporation, Pneumatic Division, and Brian Binning, the division quality manager, for this summer.

IChallengUth is a part of the Ottawa County Intermediate School District’s Future Prep’d program. Otsego is the first school to pilot this program in Allegan County. McCallum attended Future Prep’d for training last summer and participated as a teacher in IChallengUth with other schools in Ottawa County. He’s excited to have the opportunity to bring this program closer to home. “I have assembled a team of six OMS. They are all excited to be part of the team and experience something new. Among other things students, will be sharpening their soft skills by using the Skills 4 Success and learning problem solving strategies with the Creative Sequence,” McCallum, explains. The students will answer the question: “How can we improve the packaging system for product repair kits to better meet customer needs?”

Students got right to work Thursday. After a brief orientation, they traveled to Parker to tour the facility, learn about the problem, discuss it and begin identifying constraints. By Monday afternoon, they will have developed a solution. They’ll present a prototype for a small audience at the school on Tuesday before their Final Presentation at Parker Hannifin Corporation for the Richland Operations Management Team and Division Staff Management on Wednesday at 11:00am.

This is a great visual of how schools and local companies can work together to increase interest in the engineering field and also provide opportunities for students to see how engineering concepts and strategies they learn in class apply to our local industry.