‘LifeLabs’ was a three-year project (1995-98) at Hopkins High School that connected students with the world of work, and then morphed into something much bigger. Students were aligned with willing local businesses to show (not just tell) how real businesses and/or factories are run, and to discover what skills and applications are needed in the real world. Through the Business and Technology Education departments at HHS, students were able to define a better understanding of their own skill sets and their interests, discover where these two might align, and figure out where they’d like to go next. LifeLabs offered more than Work Study – a real insight into the uses of emerging technology and the demands of a successful business. The project benefitted the business owners as much as the students because it offered them a chance to steer their future work force in the right direction, and to inspire the students to pursue the productive higher education really necessary to their success.
LifeLabs did exactly what HEF hopes for – it took off on its own trajectory. It was so successful that one of its principal organizers, John Ondov, turned it into the not-for-profit Lifelab Learning Institute, and it is now Lifelab LLC. Over the years, the Institute worked with many colleges and universities, created a two-year college prep teacher training program, and worked with MnSCU schools to align curricular enhancements with targeted work skills and degrees.
Mr Ondov comments, “The value of a 2-year college education is increasing. LifeLabs focused on applied contextual learning – we wanted to connect the kids with the skills needed in the workplace. It (Lifelab LLC) has continued to be devoted to connecting learning and work in many ways,” and providing business owners with higher skilled workers.
What a way to begin the HEF story!