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The new Try a Trade program has been so successful co-ordinator Randy Grey hopes to expose all Comox Valley Grade 7 students to it this year.
Grey, career programs co-ordinator for the Comox Valley, organized the first Try a Trade last spring and decided to expand the program this year because of its success.
“I would like to get every elementary (school) through this year,” says Grey. “That’s my goal.”
Forty-two Aspen Park Grade 7 students tried out various trades last week during the third Try a Trade this year. Students spent part of a day at Sandwick Technical School learning the basics of trades like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, drywalling, painting, mechanics and pouring concrete, via a hands-on approach.
“They actually have to do something and they have to have fun doing it,” says Grey, adding the overall goal behind the program is to encourage students to consider a career in trades.
“They’re excited about learning, so when they come to this event, they are so excited. They will go home and they will talk to their parents and tell them about what they did, and hopefully that’s going to open up that conversation on career counselling between parents and kids.”
Grey adds Grade 7 students used to have the option of trades classes in middle school, but since the grade reconfiguration in the Valley, students haven’t had that opportunity until they reach the secondary level.
Grey visits Grade 7 students in their classrooms a couple of days before Try a Trade and talk about trades, using resources from http://www.discovertradesbc.ca. On the day-of, students receive a lesson on shop safety before they begin, and all activities are designed to their age level.
For example, in plumbing students learn how to safely cut pipe, use PEX connectors, solder copper joints and layout drain pipe in a wall. In carpentry, students learn how to read a blue print, use a hammer and measuring tape and build part of a structure.
Another benefit of Try a Trade, says Grey, is that Grade 11 and 12 trades students play the role of student leaders to the younger students.
“They get so many rewards from this; they are volunteering back into our community … and they are teaching younger kids,” says Grey. “And, I cannot believe how well these kids have risen to it.”
Aspen Park teacher Sherry Dittrick says her students were still talking about the things they learnt during Try a Trade when they got back to their school. She notes some of the kids had experience with some trades, like mechanics, outside of school, and seemed to already have an interest in trades.
“And then other ones have never wielded a hammer in their life,” she says. “It was kind of neat to see.”
She also says the program seemed to be eye opening for the girls, in particular, because many hadn’t tried trades before.
“They seemed to enjoy it because they just kept moving from place to place with a big smile on their face,” she says.