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Local high schools take part in manufacturing event

By Staff | Oct 14, 2015

Students at North Fort Myers High School last week got an opportunity to learn more about manufacturing.

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, along with the Southwest, invited students to participate in Manufacturing Day, a national day celebrating modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

Marine Concepts/JRL Ventures, Polygon Solutions, S4J Manufacturing Services, Storm Smart, and Trilogy Labs welcomed students from five Lee County high schools; Mariner High, Lee Virtual, Ida S. Baker High, Dunbar High, and North Fort Myers High.

Students were given tours of the manufacturing facilities, learned about the manufacturing industry, and spoke with business owners about the skills and certification needed to work within the industry they went to.

About 15 North Fort Myers students visited Trilogy Labs where they learned about the process involved in making skincare products. The students actually made lip balm, packaged it, labeled it and learned about “batch coding,” which is used to identify products in the event there is a recall.

“There’s a machine that sprays the code onto the product on a conveyor belt. Kind of a Laverne & Shirley moment,” said Andy Jeter, STEM Club instructor.

“The kids did all this and made it from scratch. They got to learn how it was made and other things,” said Margo Brewster, communications specialist at the foundation. “The boys were more excited making the skin-care products than the girls. They were into picking flavors for the lip balm.”

“The kids got to put the product into the tray and package it. They got to take some home with them and try out the different skin care products,” Jeter said. “It was a hands-on experience. It was more than watching machines do the work. The kids got to see the applications in action and ask questions about schooling.”

Mariner High visited Marine Concepts, where they learned how to build boats and saw the computer programming used to customize the design.

Ida S. Baker High visited S4J Manufacturing and learned about making luers – a lock fitting-and custom adapters.

The tours were offered through the STEM@Work program, where students learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) opportunities and needs in the workplace.

The program is driven through a partnership between The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Career and Technical Education Department of the Lee County School District.

Through tours, shadowing, and hands-on activities, the students experienced on-the-job skills in local STEM industries.

“We try to target students who have an interest in manufacturing. The students loved it,” said Margo Brewster, communications specialist at the foundation. “It was fun partnering with the manufacturers.”

“What a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with local manufacturing businesses to learn about job opportunities and the educational requirements needed to obtain a good-paying position,” said Marshall T. Bower, president and CEO of the foundation, in a statement. “These awesome partners exposed our students to all kinds of career opportunities.”

Even Jeter left learning a lot from the experience. Namely, the different skills it take from many people to make the business work.

“What was interesting was the diverse fields that one business covers, from science to the business side, with the regulations and licensing. Just a broad range,” Jeter said. “You take some of these things for granted, so it was an eye-opening experience for me.”

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. is a private, 501(c)3 organization that was established in 1986 to enhance the quality of public education in Lee County for students and educators.