Invalid username and/or password.

Forgot Password?

Header Logo


Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Education Summer 2012 Newsletter


Techniques Advert Events Partners Countdown

Teaching Internet Safety as Life Skill

Suggestions for Career and Tech Educators to Teach Intenet Safety 

The internet is a major tool in almost every career. According to Joanna DeFranco, assistant professor of software engineering at Penn State University, “today’s students will be the next generation of the workforce, and they need to be taught how to use the Internet safely. It is an additional life skill that should be taught like all the others for career preparation.”

How Bad Is It?
DeFranco points out that there are new threats to one’s personal security every day. “The skill necessary for the average hacker and pedophile to access our kids has decreased, but the sophistication and opportunities of the attacks are increasing,” she said.

And a teacher may think that his or her students are more tech-savvy than they are and have nothing to teach their students. DeFranco said that is false. “Teens may know more about the latest Internet tools, but statistically they are more likely to post personal information,” she explained.

Technology is a great asset as long as it is used safely; however, teachers may not feel they need to focus on teaching how to use the Internet safely because the parents or another instructor may have that covered. In many cases, this is not so. “Teachers may focus on effectively searching for specific information, teaching the kids how to differentiate fact from opinion, teaching kids how to properly cite Internet sources—this is all very important,” said DeFranco. “But kids also need to understand that the Internet is both a great resource and a great danger.”

What Teachers Can Do?
Educators, especially those in CTCs, need to take the lead in teaching Internet security skills, especially since many CTC educators use the Internet as a major part of their curriculum. “The more time a student spends online, the greater the odds that they will deviate from the task at hand, creating a greater opportunity for problems,” DeFranco said.

Some Sites to Use 

Teachers need to discuss with kids some real-life stories about what can happen if you are not safe. Here are some Web sites to help:



According to DeFranco, the main point to teach students is how to protect their personal information. This includes not trusting people they meet on the Internet, the possible dangers from posting pictures of themselves and friends (with geo tags), learning about social engineering techniques, and viruses.

For example, if you take a picture with your smartphone that has geotagging enabled and post it online to a site, the photo has the location of the photo embedded in it. This lets everyone know where you live if you take a picture in your home.

Or take a look at the many forms a virus can take. From e-mail attachments to a fake friend request from their favorite social networking site, students do not always see the risk involved with just clicking a link.

“They also need to think about their future,” DeFranco added.“Employers may have or request access to their social networking sites. Students also need to be reminded that once you send something out, you cannot take it back. And there is also the chance that it will go viral.”

Parents should be encouraged to install a kid-safe browser at home, like Kidzui. If teachers are assigning work to be done at home, they should inform the parents about a kid-safe browser. DeFranco added, “Ask parents to continue the conversation at home—it needs to be just as important as the discussions ‘about say no to drugs’ and bullying.”

PACTE Summer 2012 Newsletter Student Security Article

Guitars Rock as STEM in Action

Guitar-building Program Excites Students, Teachers About STEM in the Classroom 

"Build it, and they will come" has never been more appropriate than for the guitar-building program at Butler Community College.

“There is an immediate connection with the guitar,” said Mike Aikens, an engineering technology instructor for 25 years at Butler and guitar-building teacher for three years. “There is something about the guitar that people relate to. Even just hanging it on the wall, it looks good.”

It is this universal appeal that makes the guitar-building project such a successful tool in teaching STEM to students in high school and postsecondary schools.

Aikens, along with instructors from four other colleges, teach workshops for other instructors all across the country. With support from a National Science Foundation grant, the guitar workshops are held free of charge to participants. The workshop registration fee, lodging, meals and per diem are all supported for participants through the grant.

And while it may seem like they are paying people to get them to participate, they are actually beating down the door to attend. This year, they had 60 people apply for 14 spots in one of the workshops. “The big reason is the climate and culture,” says Aiken of their success. “People want innovative creative ways to reach students. It ignites and inspires teachers.”

About the Workshops
The project provides innovative professional development to high school and community college faculty in collaborative design and rapid manufacturing. “We like the participants to come as a team, one technology teacher and one science or math teacher, ideally. This allows for cross-disciplinary actions,” said Aikens. “They come together. They build the guitars together. They will teach at their school together. But the most important thing for us is that the participants will be champions of this program in their school. We want them to go on and implement it.”

Faculty teams take part in an intense five-day program, with each member building their own guitar and participating in student-centered activities that relate guitar building to specific math, science and engineering topics. Participants leave the program with their custom-made guitars and curriculum modules they can immediately incorporate into their school’s curriculum.

A typical session includes:

  • STEM learning activities in science, math, engineering, and other disciplines.
  • Lab time for building the guitars and applying the lessons on intonation, electronic installation and other skills.
  • Development of a STEM learning activity.
  • Rock Star Friday, where they test their guitars.

The specific correlation for the guitar-building practices and STEM are pretty easy to find. For example, wave motion, magnetics and frequencies are all taught in physics. Woodworking and 3-D modeling are taught in tech classes. Materials properties and design are taught in engineering. Algorithms for fretting are taught in math classes. “There is plenty there to teach STEM content,” said Aiken.

Taking it to the Classroom
Aikens believes that the guitar-building works in the classroom for a number of reasons.

PACTE Summer 2012 Newsletter Guitar Article 2 

It is a scalable project—The levels of integration make it easy for teachers to incorporate the guitars. For example, a low-level integration would be for the teacher to use the guitar they built as a learning tool to reverse-engineer. A high-level integration would be to become one of the supply chain providers for the guitar kits the program sells to schools.

Aikens has everything from a school club for enthusiasts to an actual semester-long class he teaches at the college. The class is either a general education completer or a capstone for their engineering technology majors. In the capstone class, students work in multifunctional teams and develop a supply chain for manufacturing the guitars.

“The workshop participants have some creative ways of implementing the project depending on the difficulty of adding courses at their school,” Aikens explained. “Of course, the best way is to incorporate it into the curriculum.”

Gender- and age-neutral project—“The electric guitar crosses all ages, genders, socio-economic ranges and races,” Aikens said. “Not all the students want to play an electric guitar, but we have picked something out of their culture, and they are grooving on it. That is what I have learned from this project. If you identify something from their culture that you can teach to, you can teach them anything.”

High engagement—“The days of going to the book and saying 'draw that CAD design' are over,” said Aiken. “It has to be dynamic and innovative. We are just trying to teach and get students interested in science and math, and we’re up against steep competition.” But Aikens said he has never seen kids so truly enthusiastic. “We have kids on our heels they are that engaged.”

High success rate for completed guitars—Aikens says that the biggest draw is the fact that, when they leave the class, students have a working guitar. It is a very tangible goal that gives the them a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the class.

On the program’s website, www.guitarbuilder.org, you can find all of the materials from the workbook, information about the workshops, and the guitar kits for purchase.

But it is Aiken’s students who really sell the project.

For example, first-year Butler student Jonathan Bertolotti built his first guitar in high school and was very interested in the class at Butler. “When I saw the dynamic guitar-design class, I thought, ‘I can get credit for something I enjoy,'” he said. “It is a very good and comprehensive class. You start with just a piece of wood and end with a functional guitar. I had built a guitar before, but now I know the algebra and science behind it and why it needs to be that way." Berteotti, who would like to have a career in building and selling guitars, is in the class two days a week and goes to the club the other two days.

Jos Olar has played guitar for seven years and really enjoyed learning about the instrument he plays. “Knowing what I know now, I know you just don’t take a block of wood and a stick and put it together.” He will be playing the guitar he has built this semester. “It gave me a different appreciation for the instrument, and I am honored to be playing it.”

Aikens says there are still spots available in their summer workshops for instructors. He will also be doing some follow-up grant work this fall, with the possibility of taking the class to the middle and elementary school levels.

PACTE Summer 2012 Newsletter Guitar Article 1

Teacher Wins Safety Award, Proves Safety Valuable Skill in CTC

When Andrew Klein began teaching precision machine skills at Reading-Muhlenberg CTC five years ago, he quickly noticed that his students needed to focus on safety.

“There are inherent dangers associated with the use of industrial machine tools,” he said. “These industrial-size machine tools contain rotating cutting tools and work-holding devises. Additionally, there are many moving parts and components associated with this equipment. After some initial analysis, I realized a student entering my program in 10th grade will have little to no work experience and/or experience with this type of machinery. Because of their lack of previous background knowledge, the need for in-depth and detailed safety training quickly became apparent."

His 15 years of direct machining and manufacturing experience with various companies, and his work with the VITAL teacher certification program at Temple University, helped Klein develop a 63-page safety guide for his students. His manual, “Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center, Machine Shop Technology Safety Manual,” provides graphics and incorporation of tests and quizzes, making the document an excellent training tool. Klein concisely covered many of the pressing safety concerns in a way that his students could comprehend.

His attention to detail and comprehensive approach to safety was recognized earlier this year with the School Lab Safety Award from the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. He traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the plaque and his $750 reward, plus an additional $250 for the school.

“I was surprised that I won,” he said about the award. “I thought it was a good product, so I entered it in the contest.”

It came as no surprise to the school staff. "Mr. Klein is very deserving of this award," Gerald Witmer, the center’s director, said. "He is a very talented machinist and teacher; our community is fortunate to have him supporting the workforce needs of our local manufacturers."

Safety Skills for Workforce Development
But the best reward for Klein is seeing his students become competent machine workers, ready for a career.

“The students see the need to develop safe work habits and are taking responsibility for their safety and the safety of their classmates,” Klein explained. “The use of this manual, along with other resources, assists them in developing a proactive approach and mindset toward occupational safety. They realize this is something that will be expected by their future employers.”

And Klein knows that the companies hiring his students appreciate it, as well. “Working in the industry, there was a lot of emphasis, training and reinforcement on safety,” he said. “Safety was a measured performance indicator, and rewards for operating safely were frequently given. I incorporated what I gained from this work experience throughout this safety manual.”

It was his work experience that directed him toward developing the guide. In addition, his work with the VITAL teacher certification program at Temple University also played an important role in the development of this resource.

“One of the assignments at Temple focused on facilitating student safety in a career and technical lab. This assignment served as a catalyst for the manual I developed. Most of the information I included on the federal, state and school laws was a direct result of the Temple assignment.”

But it is really the need to have his students ready to take on machinist careers safely that was the true driving force for the manual.

“To see them come in at 10th grade and not having ever seen the equipment, to leaving in 12th grade career ready is the best result from this guide,” he said.

PACTE Summer 2012 Newsletter Safety Article

Join Sq


Login above for access to member information


Join/Renew · Learn About Membership


Divisions · Regions · State Associations

Recommended Stories

Who We Are

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.

What We Do

ACTE is committed to enhancing the job performance and satisfaction of its members; to increasing public awareness and appreciation for career and technical programs; and to assuring growth in local, state and federal funding for these programs by communicating and working with legislators and government leaders.


ACTE Calendar

Monday, August 03, 2015

Oklahoma CareerTech Summer Conference

Sunday, August 09, 2015

WA-ACTE Summer Conference

View All Events