If You Can See It, You Can Be It: Students Use VR to Learn About Trades
Originally appeared on The Daily Advance NC – https://www.dailyadvance.com/news/local/if-you-can-see-it-you-can-be-it-students-use-vr-to-learn-about/article_56895202-c226-5f72-a0af-5f0490b93847.html
Eighth-grade students at Elizabeth City Middle School got to try their hand Wednesday at everything from operating heavy equipment to climbing utility poles through the modern miracle of virtual reality.
The Be Pro Be Proud mobile unit was at ECMS, offering eighth-graders a chance to learn about career opportunities in skilled trades such as welding, tractor-trailer driving, electrical construction and maintenance, and heavy equipment operation.
Student McKenna Overton said she enjoyed using a simulator that allowed her to experience what it’s like to operate the heavy equipment used in logging.
“I like it,” McKenna said.
She liked it enough, in fact, that she said she would consider a career operating heavy equipment.
Asked whether she had decided what she might like to pursue as a career, she replied, “Not yet, but this gave me a good idea.”
McKenna also said that the utility pole simulator “was a lot of fun.”
Mary Grace Luton, the career development coordinator for Pasquotank County High School and Elizabeth City Middle School, said the N.C. Department of Public Instruction had made the Be Pro Be Proud unit available as a free resource for students in grades 8-12.
“My goal is to have students exposed as early as they can be to opportunities in these trades,” Luton said. “That was my intent in trying to get it here.”
Luton said in an email message to other ECPPS staff that “Be Pro Be Proud NC aims to change perceptions of technical careers and increase training to address longstanding labor shortages in skilled trades professions.”
Eric Freshwater, a student who tried his hand at a number of the simulators, said he has an interest in construction and believes he has a knack for that kind of work.
“I feel like (the activity) was really good for me because I need a job that I can get in high school,” Eric said. “I feel like (construction) is something that I’m really good at.”
Josh and Trish Seaford are a husband and wife team who take the Be Pro Be Proud mobile unit to high schools, career centers and the occasional middle school around the state.
Josh Seaford explained that Be Pro Be Proud started in Arkansas but is now a movement that is sweeping the nation, including the chapter in this state known as Be Pro Be Proud NC.
He explained that if students go to BeProBeProudNC.org, they can learn more about in-demand careers in skilled trades and even be connected with employers who are looking for people in those trades.
Seaford said the trades represented Wednesday included heavy equipment operation, construction, lineman bucket, welding, and truck driving.
“(Students) always enjoy it,” he said.
Seaford said he and his wife mostly visit high schools but had enjoyed working with the eighth-graders at ECMS.
“Our goal is to help students have a plan when they get out of high school and also to find something they enjoy doing,” he said.
Learn More About the Program
Check out the case study – https://www.groovejones.com/vr-experiences-to-recruit-next-generation-skilled-workforce/