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Youth garner inspiration from career day

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Jaurez Jackson, an engineer with Lockheed Martin in Marietta, speaks to fifth-graders about the real-world importance of math and science in the classroom.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Jaurez Jackson, an engineer with Lockheed Martin in Marietta, speaks to fifth-graders about the real-world importance of math and science in the classroom.

REX — Fifth-grader Christopher Hyde was enthralled with Shayla Nealy’s seven-minute career day presentation at Roberta T. Smith Elementary School Thursday.

Nealy, a water resource engineer at Clayton County Water Authority, helps monitor the quality of water that eventually ends up as drinking water. She pushed two marbles into the 10-year-old’s hand as part of a demonstration on non-point source pollution (that which cannot be traced to a single source).

“What did you have to study in college?” Hyde asked.

Jaurez Jackson, an engineer with Lockheed Martin in Marietta, answered.

“Math and science,” said Jackson, who presented with Nealy. “It’s easy if you put the work in. And there’s no recession in engineering.”

Hyde wrote the answer down in notes he kept from the presentation.

“Knowing how they help people by cleaning the water and building stuff makes me want to be an engineer,” said Hyde. “I want to be one of the people that builds things.”

About 60 guest presenters — from radio disc jockeys to helicopter mechanics — spoke to the 965-member student body about their various careers and how education was a necessary part of reaching their goals.

Principal Dr. Machelle Matthews said students learn how what they are being taught is applied in real-world careers like engineering.

“I think it opens their minds to understand that, growing up, they will be responsible for their education and career,” she said.

Richard Bergman and Krystal Dodson conducted demonstrations in the school parking lot. Bergman is a closed-circuit televising crew leader for the water authority. Dodson is a closed-circuit televising technician.

“We try to tie a lot of math skills and map skills and computer skills into our presentations because they are necessary to do our job,” said Bergman.

The pair uses an 80-pound camera to scope out clogs in the county’s 1,300 miles of sewer lines.

“Students want to know if there has ever been an alligator in the lines,” said Bergman. “But it’s mostly [cooking] grease that clogs the lines. So, it gives us a good opportunity to inform the children about grease and they go home and tell their parents.”

Loretta King is a fifth-grade social studies and English/language arts teacher. She said she was pleased with students’ reactions to career day.

“I thought this was very interesting,” said King. “We’re trying to teach them that math and science are important. A lot of what they are telling them are things I tell them every day. It helps hearing someone else say it.”