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Middle School West Students Explore  “What’s So Cool about Manufacturing” 

Six students at Middle School West took on the challenge of discovering What’s So Cool About Manufacturing by creating a two-and-a-half-minute video of their visit to Misco Products Corporation, a Reading-based manufacturer of liquid cleaning chemicals used primarily in exclusive branding for the janitorial sanitation, food service, education, healthcare and other commercial and industrial markets. The video is an entry in the “Dream It. Do It. PA” Berks and Schuylkill student video contest, produced by the Manufacturing Resource Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 


The contest pairs student teams from 35 middle schools with 35 local manufacturing companies and provides them with video equipment and training to generate excitement about manufacturing careers. Middle School West’s team includes eighth grade students: Lucas Famous, Morgan McMahon, Katrina Clark, Michael Harp, Madelyn Olejniczak, and Nicholas Michaels. Special Education/English Language Arts teacher Mr. Mark Magro and social studies teacher Mr. Tim Rothermel are serving as mentors. Contest rules dictate that the video be 100% student-driven.   


“The video contest is a fantastic, hands-on way to expose the students to career paths that connect to what they are learning in their STEM classes,” says Mr. Rothermel. 


Created by the Manufacturers Resource Center in 2013, the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contests draw entries from teams across Pennsylvania. The teams of students and teacher coaches receive camera equipment, software, and professional guidance as they learn to script, record, and edit their video stories. The contest’s objective is to change students’ perceptions about manufacturing careers.  


To form Middle School West’s team, Mr. Rothermel and Mr. Magro invited 30 students to a meeting where they introduced the contest and handed out applications; six students responded.  


The project started with the team and mentors visiting Misco Products Corporation for a full-day tour. During the day, students learned what Misco Products does by speaking with employees and shot footage for their video. The students learned that Misco Products has a need for diverse job skills – chemists, graphic artists, marketing, sales, and manufacturing. 


“The project has become challenging for the team,” Mr. Magro says. “It is refreshing to watch them work as a team … texting, emailing, and relying on each other.” 


The final video will highlight, in a humorous manner, that manufacturing isn’t what people initial think it is. By improving the image of manufacturing careers and creating awareness about them, the contest aims not only to sustain manufacturing careers but to help them thrive. 
The video contest culminates in an awards ceremony on March 5. One of the awards that the students will compete for is the Viewers’ Choice Award, which goes to the team with the most online votes. Viewers can vote for Middle School West’s video online between February 27 and March 1 at this link: www.whatssocool.org.