Students will recognize that many of these careers require or benefit from a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Students will make personal connections between their interests and current skills to the people profiled.
Setting the Stage
The terms “occupational cluster” and “career cluster” are often used interchangeably. Each term refers to a way of grouping careers that are similar based on required skills, knowledge, duties, education, and working environments. When students are aware of the different occupational clusters, they become aware of the variety of careers available. For example, a student interested in health care might believe their only career options are doctor, dentist or nurse. However, while the career cluster in which health care is found does include these careers, it also includes such careers as medical support personnel, lab technicians, physiotherapists, orderlies, and art therapists, to name a few. Career exploration is aided by identifying occupational clusters of interest and then exploring the types of careers available within a cluster.
Material & Preparation
- Arrange for computer and internet access for students working in pairs or groups.
- Ensure access to appropriate crossword puzzle creation program such as https://worksheets.theteacherscorner.net/make-your-own/crossword/
- Download the Puzzle My Career – Planning Guide ready-to-use Reproducible (1 per student) [Google Doc] [PDF]
What to Do
Teachers could begin by leading a class brainstorming session to create a list of occupations (jobs) that are related to science and technology. If necessary, teachers could add some less common STEM careers not identified by students.
Alternatives to the class discussion:
- Teachers could supply students with a pack of sticky notes; studentscome up with as many careers as possible, writing one career per note; these are placed on a wall or white board and analyzed as below.
- Using an online tool, such as Google docs, teachers could prepare a blank sheet on which students could type in career titles. After a set amount of time, these would be analyzed as below.
After students have created an extensive list of careers/occupations, have them review the occupations they have listed. Students may then brainstorm any similarities between the careers. For example,the career Hospital Lab Technician and a career such as a Doctor or Nurse are related to healthcare. Students can then brainstorm different categories in which the careers could be grouped together.
At this point, teachers should introduce the concept of occupational clusters as a grouping of careers that are similar based on required skills, knowledge, duties, education and working environments.Teachers could introduce students to some examples of career clusters (e.g., Canada’s NOC system or the 16 occupational clusters format).
Students will use career profiles available at the Let’s Talk Science careers website to create a crossword puzzle from a specific career cluster. A sample is provided below. After they have created their puzzle, students could share them with others with the challenge to see if they can identify the specific career cluster or occupation,on which the puzzle is based. Alternatively, teachers could provide students with an occupational cluster title and have students go into each cluster to find clues that will complete the crossword. To differentiate, word lists could be provided as necessary.
Teachers could have students use a crossword puzzle maker program, such as
Teachers can look at the sample student response given in the section below.