Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Career Cluster Madness

Lindsey Link, Alex Holmes | Published: November 23rd, 2022 by K20 Center


The K20 Center’s GEAR UP program wants to help you explore career options! This Career Cluster activity will help you think about your skills, personality, and interests in order to identify which clusters might be a good fit for you. While your interests will likely change over the years, the Career Cluster Madness activity is a great place to begin your exploration—but the journey won’t end there. You can use what you learn in this activity and apply it to other career exploration and activities.

Materials List

  • Device with Internet access

  • Student Guide - Career Cluster Madness

  • Career Cluster Infogram

  • K.I.M.S. Notes

  • KIMS T-Chart

  • Career Cluster Madness Tournament Bracket handout

  • Frayer Model Template

  • Two-Voice Poem Template

  • Sample Two-Voice Poem

  • Mascot Pennant Handout

  • Pens/pencils

  • Blank pieces of paper (optional)

  • Coloring utensils (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.)

What to Do

  1. Quickly skim through the Student Guide-Career Cluster Madness. This booklet will provide you with access to all information and handouts that you need to complete this student activity.

  2. Begin by using the Career Cluster Infogram to explore the sixteen career clusters and create your own K.I.M.S. notes.

  3. Move onto the Bracket Challenge activity and start your Career Cluster tournament, narrowing the clusters down to one final champion.

  4. Use what you have learned and create a mascot for the career cluster that finished number one in your bracket.

  5. Check out more information about career exploration in the Extend section.

Activity #1 - Selection Process

In this activity, you will use the Career Cluster Infogram to explore the sixteen different career clusters. Use the K.I.M.S. Notes or the KIMS T-Chart or create your own notes organizer on a separate sheet of paper to keep track of your notes while you complete this activity. You will use the information from this activity to help guide you through the next activity, so be sure to follow all the steps


  • Device with Internet Access

  • Career Cluster Infogram

  • K.I.M.S. Notes, KIMS T-Chart or blank pieces of paper

  • Pencils/Pens


First, view the Career Cluster Infogram. Look through each page and read the information for each cluster.

Print eight copies of the K.I.M.S. Notes or print copies of the KIMS T-Chart or make your own T-Chart on a sheet of paper to take notes on important information about each career cluster. Whichever form you choose, be sure to include the following information:

  • K - Key Word

Think of a word that represents the cluster based on the information you viewed on that page of the Infogram.

  • I - Important Information

What is important about this career cluster? A good place to look for this information on the Infogram is in the description area.

  • M- Memory Clue

What is an image you saw or a job that was listed that will help you remember this cluster?

  • S- Sentence

Summarize each career cluster in one sentence.

Once you have finished your K.I.M.S. Notes, keep them handy. You will need them to help you complete the next activity.

Activity #2 - Bracket Challenge

Have you ever watched March Madness, the college basketball championship tournament?

During this activity, the sixteen career clusters will compete head-to-head in an epic battle to determine which cluster matches your interests, personality, and career goals. Begin the first round using your K.I.M.S. Notes from the previous activity to help eliminate the first group. Make sure those notes are handy. You will progress through several elimination rounds to get to your championship pair.


  • Device with Internet Access

  • Career Cluster Madness Tournament Bracket handout

  • K.I.M.S. Notes handout

  • KIMS T-Chart (if you chose this method to take notes)

  • Frayer Model Template

  • Two-Voice Poem Template

  • Two-Voice Poem Sample

  • Blank sheets of paper

  • Pencils/pens


First, take a look at the Tournament Bracket handout. This page has all sixteen career clusters listed on the outside spaces of the bracket. They are matched up in pairs. The following instructions tell you how to eliminate clusters for your Career Cluster Madness tournament:

Round 1 - Sweet Sixteen

Review your K.I.M.S. Eliminate one cluster from each pair based on your likes, interests, and information gathered from Activity 1. Write the career cluster that you want to move on to the Elite Eight round in the winning bracket space to the side of each pair, moving towards the center.

Round 2 - Elite Eight

Use your device with internet access to go to the O-NET Online career cluster page. Use the website to learn more about jobs in the eight clusters you have left on your bracket. Once you have completed that review, eliminate one cluster from each pair. This will get you to your Final Four. Write those four clusters in the four spaces on the bracket moving toward the center.

Round 3 - Final Four

Using the site take a closer look at one job of interest in each of your four remaining clusters. Use the Frayer Model handout and fill in the information for each of the four careers you look at. Include skills you will need, education requirements, and salary information. Rate the career on a scale of one to five stars, one being the lowest and five being the highest. After you have completed the four Frayer Models, eliminate two. This will give you your final two clusters for the Championship round. Write those two clusters on the blank spaces in the center of your bracket.

Championship Round

For the final round, use the Two-Voice Poem strategy to determine the winner of your Career Cluster Madness Tournament Bracket. Looking at the two career clusters, brainstorm similarities and differences between the two. Use the Two-Voice Poem Template to structure your poem. This poem is designed to be read by two voices. Think of it as a rap battle between two career clusters. You can find a sample of a Two-Voice Poem here.

Your original Two-Voice Poem will reveal your winner. Once you have your winner, take some time to explore more about that career cluster and the job opportunities that might be available for you.

Extend - Design a Mascot

Did you know?

The word mascot actually comes from the French word, mascotte, which means "lucky charm." Sports organizations and schools use animals as mascots to provide extra entertainment for their audience. Some schools and teams even bring along live animals to the games.

Uga is the University of Georgia’s mascot. In 2019, Sports Illustrated selected Uga as the Greatest Mascot in College Football History. The writer states that "Georgia’s line of pure white English bulldogs, now on number 10, has been a staple of the mascot landscape since 1956. Though every new dog is added to the "Uga" line—Uga X is the latest—each also has its own unique name, is given a custom-made jersey and a varsity letter, and resides in an air-conditioned on-field doghouse. When his day comes, each Uga is buried in a marble vault alongside his fallen predecessors outside the football stadium."

Taima the Hawk is the live mascot for the Seattle Seahawks and one of only three live mascots in the National Football League. According to the Seahawks, Taima has been a member of the team since 2007. He is always the first out of the tunnel before a game starts and is usually the last to leave. His name was chosen by the fans and means "Thunder."

Having live mascots is not something that every team can realistically include in their roster. Can you imagine going to a college football game and seeing a live alligator on the sidelines? In the late 1960s, with the invention of the Muppets came the rise of the ‘fantasy mascots.’ "These larger-than-life puppets represented a new medium in mascot development and utility: cute and touchable corporate ambassadors" (International Sports Federation).

For this activity, you will design a mascot of your very own that represents your career cluster. So, whether you design one that can show up at your career fair in person, or you design one that represents the career in a fantastical way is up to you.

To begin, you want to think about what makes a good mascot. What career cluster will this mascot be representing? What images, information, keywords, and symbols pop into your mind? Knowing your content and what your mascot represents is very important. Think of ways your mascot could be helpful to others who are trying to understand what it characterizes.

Use the handout provided to create a mascot for the final cluster that won your Tournament Bracket activity. You can look back at the images on the Infogram to help you. Notice the images of the people and the icons on that page. You can also use your device with internet access to search for other visual ideas that help represent that career cluster. Have fun with this.


  • Device with Internet Access

  • Activity 2 Handouts and Notes pages

  • Career Cluster Infogram

  • Mascot Pennant Handout

  • Pencils/Pens

  • Coloring tools (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.)

  • Scratch paper for sketching (optional)


  • Start this activity by reviewing information about your winning career cluster from Activity 2. You can use your K.I.M.S. Chart, Frayer Model, and Two-Voice Poem handouts (Template and Sample Poem).

    Decide whether your mascot is meant to represent the whole cluster or just a specific job from the cluster. Using your observations and previous work, what image comes to mind that can visually represent your final career cluster/job?

  • Look back at the Career Cluster Infogram to help you brainstorm your design. Notice the icons and images on the cluster slides that can be helpful in creating your mascot. Sketch your ideas on a scratch piece of paper if that is helpful.

  • Create your final mascot design on the Mascot Pennant Handout. A pennant is a type of flag used to represent a team. Your pennant should include:

  • Your cluster or job name

  • The mascot

  • Finalize your pennant by coloring it and decorating it in a way that best represents your cluster or job.

  • Once you have finished your mascot, share it with a friend, family member, or teacher.

Want to learn more about the sixteen career clusters? Explore different career options using the activities developed on the K20 Center LEARN website. These activities take a deeper dive into a variety of careers across the sixteen career clusters.


  • Burtnett, F. (2021). In Bound-for-career guidebook: A student guide to career exploration, decision making, and the job search (2nd Edition, pp. 13). [Essay]. Rowman & Littlefield.