Written by Bianca Medina, proud corps member serving on the Entergy Louisiana/New Schools for Baton Rouge team at Broadmoor Middle School.

AT&T and Communities In Schools teamed up to provide 8th grade students from Broadmoor Middle with a “Career Exploration” intern workshop this Thursday.  The themes of the day: communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

Right when students arrived at the workshop, they were warmly welcomed by AT&T volunteer professionals and seated at a round table. These professionals included retail sales consultants, budget and data analysts and computer programmers. Their first assignment for these young adults: paired interviews.

8th grade Broadmoor students interview each other for about 15 minutes. One pair present each other’s answers to their fellow classmates (lower right).

Students had to ask each other questions about their future education and career plans, as well the skills they need to achieve their goals. They did not simply pair up and record their answers on paper. They had to exercise their communication and active listening skills because they also had to present their counterpart’s responses to the rest of the room. Shown in the pictures above are the 8th graders interpreting their partners’ answers and presenting the information in an organic narrative way.

For the second team-building activity, students broke into several groups and had to use the packaged materials to create the longest object possible that could be transported back to the conference room. These materials included a manila paper envelope, paper clips, play dough, two sheets of white copy paper, a pen and a glue stick. One more stipulation: the students could not engage in oral communication.

Two Broadmoor students, along with their other teammates, create the longest possible object without orally communicating with each other. All of the teams’ final products can be seen in the lower center picture.

Kevin and Bobby worked to create the longest object under the supervision of an AT&T volunteer. Once they brought their end product back to the central room, the other teams debated on whether their team accurately followed directions. Students and professionals alike asked whether any of them were allowed to use the manila envelope or solely the contents of the envelope. No team won in the end. But, the students realized the importance of interpreting instructions and creatively collaborating to make the most of any materials available at hand.

In the third team-building activity, students used spaghetti noodles and marshmallows to create the tallest, free-standing structure.

8th grade Broadmoor students compete to create the tallest, free-standing structure with spaghetti noodles and marshmallows.

Students raced to determine what geometric shapes they should use for their structures. One student recalled seeing towers in her neighborhood and concluded that repeated X’s offer solid structural support. After the students finished presenting their structures, Kenadi Vallet murmured to herself and her fellow teammates, “I wonder how the people think when they’re making these things.”

On Thursday, these 8th grade Buccaneers learned to: listen to each other, interpret information and instructions and to apply their knowledge and creativity to challenging tasks. Most importantly, they learned to critically analyze their own invaluable thinking processes with the help of AT&T professionals.

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