At Paul Lawrence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation in Lynchburg, Virginia, college mentors work with middle schoolers to build a tiny house, and it is all to sharpen skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Soft SkillsAn afterschool program funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant pairs middle-schoolers with students from Randolph College who are in a mentoring and leadership class. The Randolph course includes in class sessions and hands on construction of the tiny house with the students.

The Randolph students lead the lessons for the middle schoolers on STEAM topics. They then apply the lessons to the construction process. This is a benefit of a partnership between Dunbar and Randolph, which is focused on exposing young students to college life and improve state Standards of Learning test scores.

Students in the program have learned about cost analysis, budgeting, public speaking, math applications, and job safety.

“We want higher level thinking, we want problem solving; those are skills that every student should know,” said Conseulla Woods, chair of Randolph College’s education department.

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