ILMA Compoundings September 2017 - 8
Should Invest in STEM
At the end of each school year, Carman Ryken, a middle
school math teacher in Tucson, Arizona, plays a "game
of life" with her eighth-grade students. The purpose
of the game is to encourage students to imagine what
their future holds. She wants her students to begin
thinking about college (or alternatives to college) and
For Shan Hogan, a high school mathematics teacher in
Philadelphia, that game is closer to becoming reality for her
students, and they are hungry to learn about their options.
But is a career in manufacturing even on their radar?
"Their parents don't know about [manufacturing careers],
and neither do the teachers," said Hogan.
In Ryken's opinion, part of the problem with science,
technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education
is that even though there are many engineering disciplines,
people don't understand how to connect kids with engineering beyond building things.
But manufacturers are in the perfect position to make
those connections in engineering and to reinforce and enhance what is already understood about science, technology
TAKING MANUFACTURING TO THE CLASSROOM
"The whole point of coming into the classroom is to empower
[students] to know what choices they have," said Hogan.
High school students need to know what kind of skills
they need for jobs in manufacturing. Do they need specific
academic and soft skills? Do they need a degree and if so,
what kind of degree? What looks good on their resume
when they are trying to get a job?
"Talk to them like they are normal people, especially
10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders. The thing that frustrates them
the most is not being treated like an adult," said Hogan.
Both teachers said it is important when reaching out to
a school or teacher to have a plan in mind. Do not expect
the teacher to do all the work. To that end, Ryken said it's
helpful for a manufacturer who is talking to students to
present activities that tie into the standards the students are
| COMPOUNDINGS | ILMA.ORG
Tips for Partnering With Schools
* Reach out to the principal and/or department head
* Come to them with a plan or ideas
* Include an activity to keep students engaged
* Bring swag and/or food
* Make Q&A a significant portion of your presentation
* Start small (one class) and keep your message
* Send someone the students can relate to (a recent
hire from trade school or college is a good choice)
Some of those standards include scale, percentages, ratios
and technical reading and comprehension. Lubricant makers,
for example, could easily cover chemistry standards by simply
explaining what lubricants are and how they are made.
BRINGING THE CLASSROOM TO MANUFACTURING
Field trips to your facility can also be an excellent way to
show students and teachers what working in a manufacturing plant is all about.
Ryken said that teachers do not have a lot of free time,
but they do have professional development hours. You could
get a teacher-focused trip approved if you pitch it to the
school district as a professional development opportunity.
Ryken suggests offering perks to entice teachers to attend,
such as something they can use in their classroom. "A lot of
teachers are drawn to that because [they are] struggling to
get their classroom set up."
It doesn't matter if your guests are teachers or students,
if you come to them or they come to you - food is always
a good idea.
Hogan laughed and said, "The gratitude you get from kids
for feeding them a 30-cent donut is shocking." Then she
warned, "just avoid peanuts ... never peanuts."