Author: David Baalmann
On a beautiful day in May, we had the opportunity to participate in a career day at Noble Prentis Elementary School. The task was to create a fun activity to get kids interested in the construction industry. We worked with eight to fifteen 3rd-5th graders at a time in six, 12-minute rotations. Each child got to put concrete into a 8” pan and decorate their creation with marbles and buttons.
With only 12 minutes, the kids and adults had to work as a team to get through the task. The challenge was also increased by the concrete chosen because it only had a working time of 5 minutes. This was by design so that the kids would be able to finish their work and see the process from beginning to end.
Most of the kids were eager, ready to dig in and move the concrete around. There were also a few that were a bit timid at first, but once they got into it there was no stopping them. The concrete started to set quickly, so the kids had to work quickly. They learned that with a little water they could do “touch ups” on their construction project to achieve the finish they wanted as it was getting harder.
This activity captured the attention of the teachers too! It was a hit for most of the students and the word spread quickly that there was a fun activity outside. When one of the other presenters had to leave unexpectedly, the students were allowed to pick where they wanted to go. Most of the students chose our table.
The experience continued the next day as they removed the concrete from the mold to see the results of their construction project.
The day was filled with great learning experiences.
The children got to play with concrete and learn how quickly it sets up. They got hands on experience with concrete tools. They were able to touch the concrete when it was wet and dry as well as experiencing the heat that concrete puts off. Our hope is that we planted the seed for some future skilled craftsman.
The teachers that stopped by our presentation liked the creativity and teachable moments from this project. One teacher even offered to pour concrete for Straub this summer! The teachers appreciated the idea that college isn’t required for everyone. You can be successful in the construction industry if college is not for you. We also talked to the counselors about doing more demonstrations on a wider range of topics in the life of a general contractor, much like the “bring your kids to work day” projects Straub has had.
In the end, Mario Gutierrez, Montyle Price and David Baalmann had a great time interacting with the kids. We want to give a big thanks to Noble Prentis Elementary School for allowing us to share our enthusiasm for construction with their students.