MARS: Teaching academic content through the lens of a professional


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MARS Business in the Global Economy finishes the year with their own version of Shark Tank.

Mastering Academic and Real-World Skills (MARS)

From the school website: “MARS is a post-secondary preparatory academic program with a focus on specific career fields. Specific pathways prepare students for careers by teaching academic content through the lens of a specific professional field. Courses combine challenging high school classes and project-based learning in a professional environment to give students a head-start on their future career.”

MARS Business in the Global Economy

By Katelyn Sirek

MARS Business in a Global Economy is one of the many beneficial electives offered at NPHS. This class is conducted off-campus at First Bank & Trust where students are expected to dress in business-appropriate attire and demonstrate professional soft skills. With the help of teachers who prioritize their growth and success, students taking this class learn how to dress and behave in a professional setting. The staff in charge of this year’s MARS Business class includes language arts teacher Lindsay Schuette as well as business teacher Jane Dittberner. This course has a unique environment that enhances students’ learning by replicating a real-world workplace. 

MARS Business gives students a language arts credit, as well as an economics credit. These two courses are combined in a way that is geared toward the business career field, highlighting important topics such as resumé building, interview skills, financial planning, supply and demand, and more. The essential skills learned in this course are put to use in the infamous Shark Tank project. Students get to invent their own products, then calculate the finances to advertise, produce, and distribute the product. They then present their product, along with their plans to successfully market and sell it, to four local businessmen and women to get authentic opinions and feedback. This unique curriculum is not only engaging for students but also teaches skills that will be useful in a real-world setting. 

MARS Business also provides opportunities for students to grow their understanding of the business field through guest instructors and site visits. Randy Stenger, Steve Eischens, and Janeil Dropik are just a few of the many guest instructors who share their experiences and offer advice as successful business people. Site visits this school year included Next Chapter Winery, By the Yard, and Second Swing. Through these site visits, students get to see the behind-the-scenes of everything that goes into running a business. Another notable part of the course is the mentorships. Each student, either alone or with a partner, has a local businessman or woman to share their own learning experiences and guide them through their learning process. Students are expected to meet with their mentor once a month outside of class to discuss their current learning focus and projects. The mentor meetings, guest speakers, and site visits are a big part of what sets this class apart from any other business class and take learning to the next level. 

MARS Healthcare I

By Ava Barsness

The best class that I’ve taken at the high school, by far, has been the MARS Healthcare class. I definitely recommend this class to anyone interested in the healthcare field. This class provides students with incredible and unique opportunities to explore different parts of the healthcare field. 

Students get to hear personal accounts from experienced professionals in tons of different specialties including physicians, labor and delivery nurses, chiropractors, and many more. 

The class is a combination of an anatomy course and a psychology course. Due to its unusual nature, students see things in this class that they probably wouldn’t see in a typical school day. This includes exposure to surgeries and dissections as well as site visits, speakers, and mentors. 

I had never put my hand on a beating pig heart or practiced skills needed for laparoscopic surgery before taking this class. Material and activities are hands-on and engaging, and they made me actually excited to go to school in the morning. This course was an incredible experience for me and if you’re considering a career in healthcare it’s a great way to learn a little bit of general knowledge.

MARS Introduction to Education

By Micah Anderson

Another lesser-known MARS class offered at NPHS is Introduction to Education. Taught by Frau Elsen, this class is perfect for anyone thinking about becoming a teacher one day. The class is very laid back, but students gain valuable perspectives, knowledge, and most importantly, experience in this class. First-semester Intro to Ed students shadow a cooperative teacher at the middle school, elementary school, or preschool level. They watch and learn from the teachers, and they also get to interact a bit with the kids. Second-semester students get to request to student teach with any teacher they want at any school, including the high school. When student teaching, the Intro to Ed students get to take a much more active role in the classroom, often lecturing or working in small group settings.

This class is excellent for any student that is even remotely considering teaching one day. The class provides an excellent opportunity to gain experience that will set you apart in college admissions, and you will get to find out whether you truly do or don’t like teaching while you’re still in high school. You also get college credit for the course through Normandale Community College. Anyone considering becoming a teacher should definitely take this class.