Worlds of Work: Students tour careers at second regional expo

Signal Knob Middle School students Hayden Fravel, left, and Griffin Curcen, both 12, stretch out their hands to catch a bubble from Thermo Fisher Scientific's booth at the Worlds of Work Expo held Wednesday at the Body Renew Fitness Sports Center in Winchester. Thermo Fisher, of Middletown, used dry ice, warm water and soap to create the gas bubble. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – Kids crowded the Body Renew Fitness and Family Sports Center on Wednesday to get up close and personal with potential careers at the second Worlds of Work Expo.

This week, seventh grade students from seven school divisions in the region will get acquainted with 10 career paths, or “worlds of work,” they might like to enter in the future. Schools are busing their students to the sports center, where participants got their personal passports stamped as they explore the different fields. The two-day career fair continues today.

Katie Rice, career and technical education and STEM supervisor for Shenandoah County Public Schools, said the expo has seen quite a few new business exhibitors from around the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

“We wanted to connect the students with the different careers that are here in the valley … showing them that there’s a lot of good opportunity here,” she said.

Among the seven divisions, Rice said 2,800 to 2,850 seventh graders will tour the expo, with just under 100 kids coming from area private schools. She said the divisions spend a total of around $38,000 on the expo, which comes from a combination of public and private funding from sponsors.

Harley Vest, 12, a Signal Knob Middle School student, touches a pig's heart at a Valley Health display in October. Rich Cooley/Daily

Jaclyn Ryan, agriscience teacher and FFA adviser at Signal Knob Middle School, chaperoned some of her students at the expo on Wednesday. She said she tried to give the kids a preview of what they’d see there.

“A lot of our students, they think to have a career in agriculture it’s production, farming … and they don’t realize all the other opportunities there are in the field,” she said. “This is awesome – the hands-on stuff that you see is just incredible.”

North Fork Middle School students Elsa Golladay, Hannah Hollingsworth and Kelly Reynoso, all 12 years old, said they had their fingerprints taken at the public service world of work and guessed the weight of a miniature horse in the agriculture section.

Hannah said she’s most interested in communications, while Kelly and Elsa said they’ve enjoyed the health science world of work.

“There’s a brain here, apparently, and I want to touch it,” Elsa said.

Sgt. Michael Miller, director of support services at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail in Front Royal, shows Hunter Gordon, 12, an Aylor Middle School student, how handcuffs lock during the expo. Rich Cooley/Daily

Tiffany Cach, a 12-year-old Signal Knob student, said she did some experiments in a lab in the manufacturing and STEM world of work. After giving a fake injection to a dummy in the health and science section, she said the experience was “kind of scary, but fun.”

“It was OK with not a real person, but I think it’ll be scary doing it on a person,” she said.

Megan Bohus, a 12-year-old North Fork Middle School student, wasn’t at all interested in the organs in the health science section, but liked watching demonstrations in the construction world of work.

“They had a demonstration of electrical wire, like what happens when certain things come in contact with it – that was pretty cool,” Megan said. “They were telling us how many volts it was, like what happened to that certain thing if it came in contact with that.”

Emma Oden, also 12, said she enjoyed seeing and interacting with the animals in the agriculture world of work.

Ryan Martin, 12, an Aylor Middle School student, touches pig lungs at Valley Health's display Wednesday during the expo. Rich Cooley/Daily

Shenandoah County School Board Chairwoman Karen Whetzel stopped by the expo on Wednesday, seeing some student interest in robotics, cybersecurity and health science.

“It’s very exciting seeing the students at middle school age exposed to all the different things in the world of work,” she said. “I don’t think they always get that opportunity.”

The expo, managed by the Lord Fairfax Community College Career Pathways Consortium, will continue on Thursday with students from nine more middle schools.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com.

Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue deputy chief Bill Streett shows Joel Gessner, 12, a student at Signal Knob Middle School, the technique for operating a hose line. Rich Cooley/Daily

Signal Knob Middle School students Caden Colcombe, left, and Sean Boehmer, both 12, give commands to Meccano, a robot from Lord Fairfax Community College's IT, Computer Science and Cyber Security Technology departments. Rich Cooley/Daily