RACINE, Wis. — Alexandra Johnson and Xandria Arndt are seniors at the Racine R.E.A.L. School. They’re currently taking an electrical devices course at the Gateway SC Johnson iMET Center.
“We have focused on mosfets, and basically just are learning about all kinds of circuits, and how to find everything within the circuit,” Arndt explained.
They chose to attend the R.E.A.L. School instead of their traditional high school as part of the School Choice Program. They’re both interested in STEM related careers, which the R.E.A.L. School focuses on.
“I would like to, in my career, maybe contribute to manufacturing technology that will push our society, our country into more of a green powered, or a green powered energy country versus where we are now,” Johnson said.
The Racine R.E.A.L. School has been growing a partnership with the iMET Center for the last four years, and starting with the fall 2021 semester, the transition to an early college STEM school is complete.
That means students in grades 9 through 12 are able to take classes there for college credit, even before they finish high school.
“I think it’s awesome because them I’m not having to spend more money on schooling,” Johnson said.
Kristeen Cajka, the Intro to Fab Lab instructor at the iMET Center has been teaching there for more than four years.
“This place is really fun, you get to learn advanced concepts essentially through making toys, having fun and being creative,” Cajka said.
She’s been teaching freshmen how to program a design for a 3-D printer to create. The Fab Lab course also teaches how to make vinyl stickers, and even how to run an electrical circuit to light a student's graduation cap.
Cajka said the students learn complex material, getting hands on experience to help in a variety of career fields.
“We’re jumpstarting them into if they wanted to go into mechanical engineering, electrical engineering. They can get interested in manufacturing, advanced manufacturing,” Cajka said; that’s just to name a few of the science, technology, engineering and math fields, where jobs are in high demand.
The Racine R.E.A.L. school has students starting in the 6th grade, but even though those youngest students won’t get college credit right away, Cajka said the experience is invaluable.
“As soon as you are introduced to this environment and what you can do here, the sooner you can build your skills in this environment,” Cajka said.
And that can save local families a lot of time and money as their students get ready for post high school life.