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Putting STEAM to Work

“Students are learning to decompose problems, look for patterns, think logically and sequentially and to create algorithms. They do this by communicating and collaborating with peers and thinking critically and finding creative solutions to problems and projects they are working on." 

Real World Learning Stories and More


Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

These STEAM disciplines teach students how to think both analytically and creatively. Pair them with real-world projects, and students learn in some of the most effective ways possible: through collaboration and trial and error.

From the elementary coding program to the coffee cart program to makerspaces, to Career and Technical Education (CTE), we nurture creativity and problem solving in every grade.

Students can then put what they’ve learned to work in our capstone programs, which allows juniors and seniors to gain professional work experience while still in school: the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) or the PCHS Transition Program for neuro-diverse students.

Help us turn our students into tomorrow’s problem solvers and innovators.


Educators say working through hands-on STEAM programs – like coding and robotics – are particularly useful to build critical thinking and problem solving skills.

When students are exposed to these techniques from preschool through high school, they’re more prepared for success. Our groundbreaking elementary coding program - and its resultant Computer Science Learning pilot program – along with robotics, makerspaces, EVA, and many others, are also focused on driving more talent, including women and minorities, into the local and national economy.

Whether it’s studying avalanches, building robots, or creating a multi-media masterpiece, Real World Learning puts STEAM to work with creative problem solving - and ultimately prepares to put our students to work in the real world!

Art is a critical piece of Real World Learning. The non-linear, creative thinking it inspires will impact Park City students well into the future, in everyday life and in careers like music and film production; visual work in mediums like web, game, graphic, and architectural design; and so much more. 

The creative, hands-on learning art provides is shown to improve: 

  • Academic performance
  • Visual, social, emotional, & interpersonal learning
  • Motor skills 
  • Access to STEM by making topics more approachable/engaging.

The elements of STEAM teach students to think in creative, ingenious, non-linear ways; to take risks, collaborate, communicate, and learn through trial and error. All of which will help them both in the classroom and well beyond. 


“"I was able experience many different aspects of the construction industry, and I must say I enjoyed them all. Everything we did was hands on, and we didn't ever have to sit at a desk on our computers. This was a great way to take a break from the typical classroom and still get the chance to learn something new." 
--Kate Johnson, TMJH CTE student



From preschool to post-secondary education, Park City School District students have access to an exceptional number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. Many of these programs are supported –or completely funded– by PCEF donors. 

PCEF was launched in 1986 – when a PCHS science teacher requested funding to send two students to a Stanford space camp. In the nearly 40 years since, PCEF has funded hundreds of STEAM grants – including that groundbreaking elementary coding program, mentioned above, which started in 2015.

How does CTE tie into STEAM + Real World Learning? 
CTE increases STEAM accessibility - and makes the content more relevant. And, it's poised to become an even more powerful asset for Park City students: thanks to our community’s overwhelming approval of the PCSD Facilities Bond, a new facility will allow CTE students to learn and work in environments on par with those found on job sites across the country.

“PCCAPS is different because you can enjoy a math or physics class, but PCCAPS actually puts into perspective what a career in that field would look like and what it would involve - helps you figure out if that is actually what you want to do.”

-Riley Barnhardt, PCCAPS student 


Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) launched in 2012/2013, following years of research and development on an initiative to better prepare Park City High School graduates for success.

PCHS juniors and seniors perform actual professional work - while they are still in school. The program partners students with businesses: students work with clients on real projects on real deadlines, and projects are executed with real results!

Teachers introduce concepts and students build on their traditional education while they add priceless experience to hone their professional perspective. As students work on projects requested by local, regional, and international organizations; volunteers mentor students through the entire project process to ensure students are equipped with what they need.  

Students choose between six different industry strands, although projects frequently overlap into many of them:

  1. Business Solutions
  2. Digital Design
  3. Engineering & Architecture
  4. Technology Solutions 
  5. Teacher Education
  6. Health Sciences

PCCAPS is the very definition of Real World Learning. This capstone project program gives our kids a way to demonstrate real world experience on their college or job applications, AND it gives kids the chance to try fields they may be interested in – well before the expense of a college major!

The clients’ projects help students develop success skills like:

  • Self-management
  • Collaboration
  • Self-reflection
  • Problem-solving
  • Perseverance
  • Effective communication
  • Deadline management
  • Good work habits

Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real world problems, using industry standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. 

PCCAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs.


PCEF donors have provided countless Real World Learning programs since PCEF's start in 1986. More recently, PCEF donors fund STEAM programs like elementary coding, makerspaces, the nationally ranked, world-record holding PCHS Robotics teams, the PCHS Transition Program, and PCCAPS.


It takes a lot of support to continue to provide these incredibly successful real-world learning opportunities.
If you feel inspired to help, we invite you to DONATE HERE.

Your Impact This Year

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