NextFlex are delighted to be starting their fifth year of FlexFactor in Santa Clara County, Calif., utilizing a virtual platform that continues to provide students with an engagement in education and career pathways that lead to the advanced manufacturing sector. To date, 3,209 K12 students have completed FlexFactor locally, with the support of parents, teachers, industry mentors and community college partners. Their momentum continues to build despite the hardships of the global pandemic, largely due to the resilience and ingenuity of the young people who participate in FlexFactor.
As you may know, FlexFactor was developed as an experiential program, designed to incorporate field trips, mentorship, and team-based learning to spark student interest in STEM-based education and career pathways. The program’s immersive approach is particularly impactful as it connects students with advanced technology and with industry professionals so they can see first-hand how emerging technologies are changing lives and what it’s like to work in the advanced manufacturing sector.
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to shift to distance learning, the NextFlex team worked with teachers to adapt FlexFactor for virtual delivery. During the 2020 spring semester virtual pilot, we discovered that the program was just as engaging for students on Zoom as it is in person. By substituting field trips with live panel discussions and virtual tours, the virtual program brings the advanced manufacturing sector to life, connecting students with both advanced technologies and professionals working in the field.