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Lake, Geauga County students participating in weeklong manufacturing summer camp

Chad Felton | The News-Herald

Summer camp season is officially underway in Concord Township, and for the 17 Lake and Geauga County participants, traditional recreational activities like archery, kayaking, zip lining and hiking has absolutely nothing to do with it.

No, this camp had the fifth- and sixth-graders occupied using multiple tools in building “boom box” speakers, rotating coil, winding and installing armatures, and mounting battery holders.

Working in the spirit of the motto adorned on the wall of the “Fab Lab” at Auburn Career Center — “The true strength in our classroom lies in the collaboration of learners, not in the knowledge of one expert” — and witnessing offsite manufacturing plants, the weeklong Summer Manufacturing Camp allows students to display deftness while building an array of teamwork and critical thinking skills.

“That’s what we want,” said Alliance for Working Together Foundation Executive Director Alice Cable, who’s operating the camp for the first time. “This is our second year and the students work with multiple items, such as 3-D printers and parts to build clocks, compasses and speakers. They work with Tinkercad (design printing app) and they’re provided with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) kits to create something working they can later take home.

“We also visit manufacturing sites where the students can see elements of production firsthand. We’ll visit Component Repair Technologies in Mentor, where airplane engines are repaired, Truline Industries (in Chester Township) and Conn-Selmer Inc. in Eastlake, which makes instruments, for example French horns. The students learn a lot, but they also have fun creating things and learning how they work. We want to clarify, also, the connection between STEM and maker and manufacturing culture.”

The camps are open to boys and girls. The ages or grades for each camp are determined by local organizers.

As a special treat, the campers also were taken to a McDonald’s for ice cream, but first they observed the machine and how it works to dispense the tasty treat.

The office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, helps in organizing the camps in partnership with AWT, Auburn Career Center and OhioMeansJobs Geauga County. This week’s camp, “Project Boom!” will continue to focus on sound, electronics and magnetism.

“Ohioans are proud of our state’s long manufacturing history,” Brown stated in a news release. “To keep up that tradition, we must get a new generation interested in our changing manufacturing sector. That’s what these camps are all about. These camps are helping students around Ohio learn about manufacturing jobs right here in Ohio and the opportunities our manufacturing sector has created for their parents and grandparents.”

The kids will be able to use their speakers to plug into their iPhones, Cable noted, adding that they will place them in housing before finishing and taking them home.

“You don’t want to be carrying around loose wiring,” she said.

“This is great, though, because this is the perfect age to introduce them to practical science-based learning, and outside of school.”

Jack Beclay, who will be a Kenston sixth-grader when school resumes, said he was eager to take part in the camp.

“I joined because it’s a good STEM opportunity. We’re really manufacturing things and using engineering. It’s fun.”