Image of woman demonstrating how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Erin Piotrowski teaches an integrated English lesson in IT class.

The Information Technology (IT) program is a blend of theory, application and trial and error. Students learn new processes and then try them out to see if they actually work. Coding involves understanding logic and precision, because a computer will only do what a human programs it to do.

Very simply, coding is a sequence of procedures that a human inputs into a computer in order to produce an output. Students in the IT class practice entering lines of code and testing the outcomes. A trial test of code can be as simple as instructing the computer to draw a smiley face on the screen. Each line of instruction in the code must be precise and include every step that will allow the successful output of the bright yellow smiley face icon we see as commonplace emojis today.

Writing code can be tedious and frustrating if a word or logic prompt is left out. One misplaced line or word left out means no smiley.

The beauty of Career & Technical Education (CTE) is the integrated academics that help students understand technical processes in relevant, engaging and fun ways.

So what does making a sandwich have to do with Information Technology?

In a recent English 12 class, IT students explored the need for precise instructions with a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Simple, right? We’ve all done it. But we’ve probably never thought of writing down every single step involved in successfully creating that sandwich.

English teacher Erin Piotrowski did just that in class. Each student was asked to write down each step for building the common lunchtime meal. She then took each student’s instructions and followed those exact steps to build that sandwich. Many sandwiches didn’t stand a chance. If a student neglected to write “take bread out of bag” for example, there is no bread to serve as the base for said sandwich. If a student’s card neglected to instruct Ms. Piotrowski to “take lid off jar of jelly,” again, there is no way the sandwich will happen.

Students watched as Ms. Piotrowski attempted sandwich making with every student’s instructions, some with hilarious results. Every student realized how important it is to have each step precisely written in order to achieve the desired outcome. Writing procedures for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches illustrated in a deeply engaging way how and why precision and logic matters.

Hands on learning, experimenting, learning from mistakes and applying relevant, innovative academic lessons to solidify technical learning is the core of every CTE program at Questar III.

Not to mention an added bonus – trial and error peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all.

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