Annual STEAM Expo & CTE Career Night highlights exciting AAPS programs

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Two events running simultaneously at Huron High School from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 will give visitors an up-close look at some exciting programs offered at AAPS.

The third annual STEAM Expo & CTE Career Night highlights the wide array of opportunities AAPS students can take to learn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), as well as career technical education.

A student from last year’s STEAM Expo demonstrates a project. Photo by Andrew Cluley.

“When we consider the workforce needs of the future, there will be more opportunities in STEM and technical fields,” said Merri Lynn Colligan, executive director of instructional technology. “This night provides an opportunity for students to learn what school opportunities we have to learn about Robotics, Project Base learning, Project Lead The Way courses and activities, summer and afterschool STEAM programming, our partnerships and preview careers.”

Kristin Cederquist, a research scientist with IMRA America, is looking forward to returning to the Expo, where about 50 exhibitors will greet visitors.

“I like to come to the Expo because it is a chance to meet with and inspire the young minds of tomorrow,” she says.  “I graduated from high school 15 years ago, but that may as well have been in the Middle Ages with how many technological and pedagogical advancements have taken place in the time since.  Students are encouraged to use their individual strengths and think critically, and this really comes through at the STEAM Expo.”

Cederquist will show off some applications of IMRA’s ultrafast fiber lasers, and showcase the rainbow colors of the laser-made nanoparticles, which are now being integrated into medical diagnostic tests.

Kristin Cederquist talks with students at last year’s EXPO. Photo by Andrew Cluley.

“I would also like to really emphasize to students how much the “A” in STEAM really matters,” she says.  “I am a scientist, but I use my artistic and graphic designer side more days than not in my career.”

In addition to exhibits led by AAPS students from all grades, community presenters also include GM EcoCar; Google; Menlo Innovations; and the University of Michigan Society of Women Engineers.

Tom Pachera, DTEP magnet lead at Skyline High School, says visitors will enjoy interacting with K-12 STEAM/Career and Tech Education students and teachers to get a real sample of what AAPS is doing.

“This will be a wonderful event for students and families to see and participate in many of the K-12 STEAM/Career and Tech Education offerings in the Ann Arbor Public schools, as well our surrounding community,” he says.

CTE Career Night

The CTE (Career and Technical Education) Career Night—to be held on Huron’s second floor above the STEAM Expo—is a chance for students and their parents to learn about the good paying, highly skilled, and in-demand careers available that can begin immediately after high school.

Students and parents can also meet one-on-one with community college representatives; skilled trades workers, and local employers. They can also visit Huron’s CTE labs.

At last year’s event, HVA Community Relations Coordinator Jason Trojan talked to students about the field of EMT/paramedics. Photo by Jo Mathis.

Karen Eisley, AAPS Career and Technical Education Chair, says Michigan has a large need for workers in the skilled trades areas and Career Night highlights these opportunities.

“Not all students learn the same,” she said.  “Some enjoy working with their hands, and find value in learning that way.  Students and families who are looking towards future careers need to be aware of the high skill, high wage, high demand jobs that are available to them.”

AAPS’ CTE trains students for a range of skilled, high-demand careers that pay well.  The career clusters include  Auto Service Technology;   Business Administration and Management;  Construction Trades / Homebuilding; Cosmetology; Culinary and Hospitality;  Digital / MultiMedia / Web Page Design;   Engineering;  Finance / Accounting;  Health Sciences; Marketing Sales & Services and Entrepreneurship.

At the Career Fair, families can speak one-on-one with skilled trades representatives about job and training possibilities, and learn about apprenticeships which are considered “learn while you earn” because they pay a good wage while students learn a trade.

Lynn Boland talks to parents about the Health Sciences Program at last year’s event.


Also on hand will be instructors from many of the programs available at Washtenaw Community College, as well as admissions representatives so students and parents can ask questions and make connections.  Military recruiters will be available for students interested in those careers. And the CTE labs at Huron will be open for families to tour and speak with AAPS teachers in those areas.

“We hope that it will be one-stop shopping for families and students who are considering a different post-high school experience than going directly into a 4-year college/university,” said Eisley. “Some students may need to help pay for their own college education, or are not sure that a four-year college is the right pathway to a career for them, and this night is for students and families who want to see what their alternatives are.”

CTE classes are available to all AAPS students, although not all buildings offer the same classes. Students who complete a Career and Technical Education class earn high school credit and possible college credit at Washtenaw Community College. Direct credit with Eastern Michigan University is offered for the engineering courses.


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