On May 4, 2018, RJG and Key Up Education hosted a one-of-a-kind educational fieldtrip for 42 third-grade students from Sylvan Elementary at RJG’s Gibsonville, North Carolina training center. The goal was to incorporate the math and science skills the students are learning in class and show how they are used in a real-world setting through hands-on activities and problem solving.

What makes these field trips unique is that RJG and Key Up Ed. communicate with the teachers beforehand and create custom activities to reflect the class’s current curriculum. The day is targeted directly at what the teacher’s content is in the classroom and adjusted to anything he/she wants them to focus on—it is a day designed around what the kids need more exposure to.

“The students get to see how the injection molding process produces their video game consoles, smart phones and automobile components,” said Marty Key, Trainer / Consultant at RJG. “And in turn, we get to see them make the connect between the math used in injection molding and the math they are learning in class.”

“[It was] the best field trip ever because it was about real work,” said Robert Hillard, a student who attended the event.

The goal of these field trips is two-fold: 1. to show students at a young age how what they’re learning in school applies to the real world and get them excited about math and science, and 2. to plant a seed so hopefully more students will consider a career in manufacturing to help bridge the skills gap the industry is currently facing.

“We often have to fight the misconception that manufacturing is done in a dark and dirty environment and involves repetitive manual labor,” said Key.

The field trips are centered around third graders because they are young and impressionable so they’re more likely to start loving math and science than older students. Third grade is also the first year that students perform standardized testing. The goal is to get them invested in science and math so that when the standardized test comes along, it’s reflected on their test scores.

The trainers make a great effort to ensure every student is involved and really connecting with the subject matter. Every student has a voice, and they validate the fact that their voice is incredibly important, which often leads to deeper, more meaningful conversations.

“I thought the connection between math and real work was meaningful to the students; plus, they learned about behaviors needed to succeed in the business world like greetings, shaking hands, etc. that will come in handy on that first job interview,” said Sarah Farrell, teacher at Sylvan Elementary.

During a classroom visit prior to the field trip, students learn about appropriate attire and practice their handshaking skills with other students so they are ready to use them with technicians and visitors once they arrive at RJG. Once at the facility, they then take a tour to see running machines, molds, vacuums, plastic pellets and more.

Students also get to:

  • See and touch pieces from the inside of an injection molding machine such as a screw, samples of plastic and the mold
  • Solve math problems that tied into what they saw on the floor
  • Create puzzle pieces on the machines, then build cubes out of them to see a part from pellets to completion

“Watching our friends from Sylvan explore the areas of engineering and math in a way that resulted in wide eyes and big smiles validates the importance of what we do and why we do it,” said Mary Key, Founder of Key Up Education. “The day is all about creating a real-world experience for students that fuses targeted classroom instruction with an exciting real-world experience.”

“Seeing these students come to our facility and leave excited about manufacturing is very rewarding—it’s hard not to look forward to the contributions they will make in the future,” said Marty Key.

These events are made possible by RJG, ZAG Equipment Sales, Fordham Plastics and Key Up Education. They hope to host many more field trips like this in the future. Anyone who is interested in participating in a class field trip, please contact Mary Key: Mary.Key@KeyUpEd.com.

About Key Up Education:

Key Up Education is a North Carolina-based initiative that focuses on empowering grade-school students to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through hands-on, real-world experiences.