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With schools closed until at least fall, educators have been scrambling to set up online classes to keep students moving on a path to graduation. Nowhere is that more challenging than in the state’s vocational-technical schools, where hands-on learning is essential.

As Bruno Tedeschi of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools explained it in a recent op-ed, “training future plumbers, electricians, chefs, hair stylists, medical techs, police officers and other technicians is more ‘show’ than ‘tell.’”

The op-ed, which ran in ROI-NJ, showed the innovative ways instructors are coping with the pandemic, and sometimes using it for their lessons.

At Union County Magnet High School for Science, Mathematics and Technology, for instance, Janhavi Gupta had his biomedical engineering students research medical equipment that can help patients suffering from COVID-19. This included studying how to design ventilators and to analyze the effectiveness of newer, less expensive models.

Similarly, Justin Montgomery, the lead computer science teacher at Hunterdon County Vocational School District’s Computer Science and Applied Engineering Academy, had students manipulate and visualize COVID-19 data as part of a class on data units.

Culinary arts is particularly challenging. At Gloucester County Institute of Technology, teacher Deneen Clark had students in her senior baking and pastry arts class make their own pie dough, a crumb topping and prepare a filling, documenting their progress with step-by-step photos.

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