CTE: Career and Technical Education
October 24, 2023

Experiential learning programs keep students hands-on and engaged

Author: Riley Ackley
Source:  NYSUT Communications
experiential learning in queens
Caption: At John Bowne High School in Queens, NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone (center) and President Melinda Person (right) learn about the school's hands-on agriculture program that helps students find high-demand careers.

Goats, robots and … crime?

For some, finding a connection between these things and the classroom may seem like a stretch. But for educators who’ve built their entire classrooms around hands-on learning, it’s just another day at work.

This fall, NYSUT President Melinda Person hit the road and visited an assortment of hands-on classrooms that are engaging students and helping them find their passions.

“Student engagement is something we should be focused more on – rather than just test scores,” said Person.

Experiential learning programs, whether it be agriculture or forensics, offer fascinating hands-on learning opportunities for students. For some students, traditional learning and pathways to graduation leave them feeling unsupported and disengaged. By focusing on project-based and hands-on learning opportunities that make kids excited about going to school, we can help provide a broad and diverse foundation for their future careers, Person explained.

And it’s not just about students, either. Across New York, employers are searching for candidates to fill positions in specialized fields. Hands-on learning helps lay the groundwork for early professional development, keeping our brightest minds in-state and strengthening our communities.

Here are a few of the classrooms Person visited. You can also watch all of the videos here.

Studying Crime in New Rochelle

At New Rochelle High School, Scott Rubins uses crime scenes to help students understand real-world science and current events.

Building Bonds Through E-Sports Gaming at Wisdom Lane Middle School

A video game club in school? Well, yes! From team building to strengthening communication skills and fostering healthy competition between schools, this educator’s E-Sports Gaming Club is building friendships that last!

Setting Students Up for Success in a Futuristic World in New Rochelle

Also in New Rochelle, one educator is preparing students for careers of the future through an Introduction to Robotics course. Students learn about engineering, manufacturing, design and more and apply those skills in robotics competitions.

Getting Outdoors in Levittown

Levittown Memorial High School has greenhouses, ducks, koi and a community food pantry that’s stocked partially with crops grown in an outdoor classroom.

Farming in Queens

At John Bowne High School in Queens, students are getting their hands dirty as part of an agriculture program that helps them find high-demand careers.


Watch all the videos at the YouTube playlist "School Tours."