Sunday, April 13, 2008

Skillz for the USA

I just returned from the Oregon SkillsUSA competition in beautiful (ahem) Albany, Oregon. SkillsUSA is a national student organization focused on preparing students for a life of work. Some of you may know this program under its former name, VICA. My traditional take on career ed is to force students to study Office Space, but it seems there are other things to learn about besides, "PC Load Letter!?!"

At the state event, students compete with other high schools in a number of career and technical skills, such as culinary arts, welding, construction, technology, etc. Winners go on to compete at a national event in June. SkillsUSA gives students a chance to be recognized for real-life skills that are not traditionally lauded in high school. GPA, popularity, athletic skill, and the oh-so-important state standardized tests are usually our benchmarks. So I appreciate that SkillsUSA is trying to recognize talents that will actually get students employed.

This was our first year participating, so an army of one student (plus me) made the drive up to compete in the programming competition. I'm happy to announce that my student got third place! I'm really proud of his work. He's a smart guy, with an incredible knack for logic and coding techniques. To give you an idea of how difficult the competition is, participants were asked to create a computer program based on the following prompt:

"Write a program which will read in a series of positive integers, separated by spaces and terminated by a zero value (which is not part of the series) It should then print out all the prime factors which are common to the entire series of numbers."

The solution to this problem is a complex soup of prime number testing, string evaluation, concatenation, and nested loops. If you're thinking, "Wow, I didn't know that Scott was so math-focused in his teaching!" Think again. All credit goes to my student. Sometimes a teacher just needs to get out of the way in order for a student to succeed. This was definitely one of those moments.


Miles Inada said...

Pix with you in a red vest???
I think the mysterious bible propelled him to 3rd place. Praise be.

Julie Inada said...

I too, am waiting for the red vest. This post is incomplete.

Miles Inada said...

It is a cool story, though. Y'alls got skillz. Let's chat this weekende.

Scott Raedeke said...

Unfortunately, we didn't wear our red jackets. I was told that it was not really necessary, which was a mistake! The place was crawling with red polyester "bidness" attire. I'll post some pics of the awards ceremony.

Miles, let's get together this weekend!