EVANSVILLE, Ind. — As Fairlawn Elementary School students weaved through the halls of Ivy Tech Community College Friday, fifth-grader Julissa Fuqua was surprised by the day’s activities.
Fuqua and nearly 70 of her classmates were split into groups and guided into four different classrooms, each filled with work stations.
Students were instructed by Fairlawn and Ivy Tech staff through a number of hands-on activities including a welding simulator, SketchUp: 3D Design Demo, MiP Robots and Manual Dexterity exercise.
As the students started to engage with the different activities their faces lit up with excitement and curiosity.
Being a part of these exercises, Fuqua said, encouraged her and other students to think about jobs they may pursue in the future.
“It’s good because it helps you make sure it’s what you want to do… And you’re not by yourself or in the spotlight,” she said.
Laura Hobgood, Ivy Tech testing services manager, said these exercises are used by local companies as pre-employment exams challenging potential workers’ abilities.
Younger students having these hands-on experiences will sharpen their problem-solving skills and ability to complete daily tasks, she said.
“With kids, it gives them an opportunity to follow instructions and see those details,” Hobgood said. “I think we forget to teach that to kids.
“I think it will help them realize that they can think outside the box, that it’s not always about electronics, and they can do stuff with their hands and it’s going to be OK.”
The event was the first under the school’s Upward Bound initiative, a program designed to take its fifth-grade students to local colleges, vocational schools and expose them to potential careers and trades available throughout the Tri-State.
“Our goal in the whole program is for kids to get exposure to what trades are out there,” said Jared Turney, the professional development specialist at Fairlawn. “Typically what you see with fifth graders is an idea of where they want to go career-wise, but they don’t really know what that takes.
“By coming to programs like this,” he added, “they get the hands-on experience of seeing what that trade looks like and what college education is necessary. So, our goal is to kind of give them a better pathway or picture of how we can get them to that.”
Along with Fairlawn students visiting Ivy Tech’s facility, Turney said the program also allows students to go to the campuses of Vincennes University, the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana. Students also attend Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. programs at the Southern Indiana Career & Technical Center and other institutions with career and college-preparatory programs.
The first year of the program was funded by FLANDERS Electric and the EVSC Foundation, which donated money largely to pay for the school’s transportation to Ivy Tech.
With additional funding, Turney’s hope is for Upward Bound to continue to grow so students can make additional trips to colleges across the state and gain a better sense of their future career goals.