This summer, for the seventh year in a row, my office is partnering with local Ohio companies and organizations to host manufacturing camps for elementary and middle schoolers across the state.
Manufacturing is one of our state’s most vital industries but too often, our students aren’t aware of the opportunities available to them in this field. That’s why we started these camps, and they’ve grown each year. This year we’ll have at least 27 camps in 21 counties. The students will visit engineering and manufacturing facilities, where they’ll have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and see where their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education can take them in the real world.
Too many people hear the word “manufacturing,” and think about dirty, dusty old jobs, and the outdated, offensive term “rust belt,” that demeans our workers and devalues their work. Ohio factories are innovative and high-tech, not rusty and outdated. These summer manufacturing camps are helping young Ohioans, and their parents, see all that this industry has to offer.
Last summer, one of the camps I visited in Mahoning County focused on alternative energy. Campers got a chance to build a model home out of recycled material and experimented with wind turbines.
Students in Ross County participated in hands-on robotics activities, while girls in Lorain met with mentors in STEM careers. We also hosted camps in the Cleveland area in partnership with My Brother’s Keeper, and we’re expanding that effort to the Toledo area this summer.
This year, we’re also kicking off our first camp in Jackson County, where campers will have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the impact this industry has on our state. Campers in Lucas County will visit the University of Toledo robotics lab, while other camps will include stops at Mt. Perry Foods and the IDEA Lab in Zanesville. In Henry County, kids will build a Lego robot, and many camps this year will provide sessions on entrepreneurship.
My hope is for all of our students to see the many Ohio manufacturing opportunities out there, and to get excited about their futures. We have camps in every corner of the state, from Tuscarawas County to Cuyahoga to the Mahoning Valley, from Guernsey to Defiance to Coshocton.
To find a camp near you and find out how kids can sign up, visit my website, brown.senate.gov.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Ohio.