From robots to styling hair, and graphic design to quilting, students at O’Loughlin Elementary School on Friday got to see and even experience how creativity can lead to a career.
In Friday morning’s “Careers that Create,” students had a half-hour of their morning schedule to visit about a dozen tables in the gym, each featuring a different career path.
It’s the second year O’Loughlin has had a career fair, said fourth-grade teacher Alicia Knight, who organized the fair along with second-grade teacher Rene Burns. Last year’s event featured heavy machinery and trucks.
“This one is things that you can do with your hands, things you can do to translate ideas you come up with in your head that come out with your hands,” Knight said.
A career fair for young students is all about exposing them to new ideas about what a job can be, the teachers said.
“It may have never crossed their minds they could do something like robotics. Maybe they knew about it but didn’t know that they could do it as an actual job,” Knight said.
Kyle Carlin, assistant director of special education, agreed.
“It’s really about getting them interested in helping them see what paths are out there, so they are already kind of starting to form some ideas and don’t box themselves in to what they see on TV,” he said.
“Sometimes it takes two or three times hearing about something. It’s all about exposure and getting them into more options for what their future could be,” he said.
Carlin wasn’t at the fair as an educator, however. He was there to talk to students about being an author. In 2016, Carlin published “Bug and Boo,” a children’s book that teaches kids how to identify and control their emotions.
Among the presenters in the gym, the drones and robots from Fort Hays State University's Department of Applied Technology and Dodge City radio host and disc jockey Monica Astorga attracted crowds of kids, but students also visited with Smoky Hills Public Television, drew pictures with FHSU graphic design students, braided hair with Hays Academy of Hair Design students and staff, and pieced together quilts with Joyce Wilson.
Some of the presenters were O’Loughlin parents or grandparents, including Chef Manuel Hernandez of Gella’s Diner, Brianna Day of J. Day Fireworks, and Micah and Noél Sanderson of MLS Creations.
Day’s husband, James, got his start with fireworks when he was 10, working a fireworks stand, and the couple purchased a fireworks company when they were in their 20s, she said. Among their fireworks shows are FHSU’s homecoming.
Day — co-president of O’Loughlin’s parent-teacher association — explained to the students how they use a computer program and electronic equipment to program fireworks shows set to music.
“When you have technology, you have to have a background in technology to run the programs and all the equipment that goes with the electronic firing. It all uses math with your angles, your geometry, your trajectory, how you want your fireworks to shoot,” she said.
Micah Sanderson repurposes found objects, such as a coat and hat hanger from wood and pieces of farm implements or decorative signs from reclaimed wood. Noél Sanderson creates jewelry.
“We’re telling them the whole idea of what I do is I take stuff and repurpose it, like stuff that people might not want or stuff I find in an alley, or I’ll get it from cabinet shops, and I’ve turned it into something that people would actually want to buy,” Micah said.
Students Alex Rohr and Lucas Dreher said the FHSU technology, Astorga and Hernandez were among their favorite career booths they visited. It probably helped that the chef was offering chocolate-covered marshmallows, but Rohr said Hernandez inspired him.
Dreher said his father went to school for drafting, so the FHSU Applied Technology display most interested him.
Sage Daves also liked the technology from FHSU.
“They had a lot of technology and they got to do 3-D printing and everything. That was pretty cool. And you learn stuff there. Why wouldn’t I like it?” she said.
But, she added, she also liked the “chocolate one.”
“I really like that all of these people brought some interactive things, some hands-on tasks for the kids to be able to do,” Knight said. “It shows them what they’re able to do in that career field. They can actually feel what it’s like to do something like that instead of just hearing about it.”