A just-opened career lab – featuring nearly two dozen interactive computer stations showing various lines of work — is the latest popular destination for Butler County eighth graders.
As one of seven such career labs now operating in Ohio, the large classroom inside Butler Tech’s D. Russel Lee Center in Fairfield Township has middle school students moving between career stations where their minds, hands and imaginations are engaged.
The goal: Get Butler County teens thinking about careers earlier and expose them to a variety of jobs through interactive digital media and hands-on experiences.
Follow up with a same-day tour of career education classes offered at Butler Tech – where the students see area high school juniors and seniors learning and doing various jobs – and it is revolutionary new approach to early career learning, said school officials.
“We have been ecstatic over the fact that students are coming, exploring and hopefully finding their passion and different career pathways,” said Joellen Turvey, career specialist for Butler Tech.
“They then leave our career lab here with some career clarity and some idea of which career pathways they are interested in,” said Turvey.
In recent years career education and earlier exposure has been mandated by state education officials as a focus for Ohio’s schools. Career interest assessments and education pathways study are now required as part of public school eighth-grade classes.
The career lab is partially funded by a state grant for that purpose, said Turvey.
The walls of the new lab, which opened in December, feature motivating words “EXPLORE” and “FIND YOUR PASSION,” in large letters.
The lab’s many career stations are marked – Dental Assisting, Welding, Automotive Collision, Cosmetology, Health Technologies and 16 others – where students busy themselves by either interacting via computer keyboards or hands-on tool work mimicking in some fashion the type of work such careers entail.
The lab gives middle schools in the 10 school districts served by Butler Tech greater scheduling flexibility, and on any given school day, there can be 50-80 students moving through the career lab in teams, while their classmates tour the career school’s high school classrooms.
The students also take a virtual reality tour of Butler Tech career programs offered on its other campuses beside the D. Russel Lee location.
Middletown Middle School’s Ethan Rowe enjoyed the new career lab experience.
“I thought it was really cool for us 13-14 year olds to experience the real world of jobs. I was in bio-medical sciences, and it’s a career I would really like to investigate and look into,” said Ethan.
Classmate Emma Bishop spent some time in the cosmetology station, curling the hair of a mannequin head, but she was interested in other careers as well.
“It was a good experience and cool to experience things we never thought we’d be interested in. I learned about stuff I have never really looked into,” said Emma.
For more information contact your local Butler County middle school officials or go to: www.butlertech.org/CareerLab.aspx