Grade 7 student Daelen Bontorin couldn’t wait to try out his new marshmallow blowgun that he made in shop class. Huh?
“We’re going to have a marshmallow war,” he said with anticipation during the “Trades Exploration Day” at SOSS recently.
Bontorin and his classmates from Oliver Elementary School took part in sampling various careers with the help of local tradesmen. Their assignment: to build a marshmallow blowgun out of PVC pipe. The students were also taught basic welding techniques, building construction (a stand for the blowgun), and electrical circuitry.
The province is expecting to have a shortage of skilled workers in the coming years. As a result the Industry Training Authority is working with school districts to promote trades to young people.
In Oliver, four local tradesmen demonstrated their craft to Grade 6 and 7 students in the machine shops at SOSS on January 29. Journeymen included Gord Young from Young’s Plumbing, Jordan Campbell from School District 53, Dennis Munckhof from Munckhof Manufacturing and Blake Martin from Eckert Electric.
Boyd Turnbull, career education coordinator in Keremeos, said the students loved the assignment. They joined piping together, built a stand for their contraption, and welded their initials on a plate.
By inviting parents too, the district was hoping that families would discuss the trades at home as well.
“We’re trying to increase the awareness of what’s available to the kids,” Turnbull said.
He noted that one female student in the district is training to be a mechanic, while another student is working towards a career as an electrician.
Career education coordinator Rod Kitt from SOSS said the traditional gender barriers in careers are starting to come down, noting that shop classes now see a 50-50 split in males and females.
“We’re also getting rid of the stigma that trades are unchallenging . . . they are really lucrative careers.”
Kitt said the academic requirements for trades are getting stiffer, with math being more of a prerequisite.
Bontorin said he really enjoyed the day because he got to “try stuff out.” And he agreed it was way more fun than sitting at a desk in class.
As for a career, he’s not sure yet. But he is thinking he might enjoy building houses because he likes woodworking.
Grade 7 student Dakota Bearman said she liked getting a taste of a trade that she might want to do as an adult. “I like carpentry the best because I really like making stuff.”