Local students from Beaverton, Michigan recently discovered the varied opportunities available in the plastics industry. This dynamic learning experience was made possible through a collaborative effort between Beaverton Junior/Senior High Principal Jen Quick, Instructor Kathy Jenkins, and Beaverton Activity Center (BAC) President and MMCC Workforce and Economic Development Director Scott Govitz.

Seventh and Eighth Grade students began their day with a visit to the BAC Catalyst Room. Here they explored the local history of the plastics industry with Scott Govitz, and read aloud the stories of local plastics pioneers. These stories connected to concepts prevalent in the industry, like collaboration, innovation, and global impact.

Students then identified all of the plastics companies in the region that directly descended from the original plastics facilities and processes created by Beaverton’s early plastics pioneers. Approximate numbers of employees at each location were determined and students learned that when added together, those employed in the industry surpassed the entire student population of Beaverton Schools.

“This was a great chance for these kids to learn more about what’s happening behind the walls of our local manufacturers, their impact on the community and world, and the opportunities that are available to them for the future,” said Govitz.

Another important element of the day was tabulating the number of different employment opportunities available inside every facility. Students identified them by title and noted the approximate pay for each of the varied positions from the Department of Labor’s, Michigan Hot 50 Jobs List.

With the help of various displays at the BAC, students learned about the community members currently employed in positions, and the educational path taken to achieve that role. A career ladder display helped illustrate the path to success that students can map out for themselves.

By becoming familiar with local companies and the products they produce, students were able to gain a wider perspective of the plastics industry. From raw materials to 3D printing and Computer Aided Design to tool and die making, students left the day with a greater knowledge of what the machines manufactured in Beaverton can really do.

Next up for students will be a tour of a regional manufacturer, supported by the MMCC student chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). The highlight of the day will be a visit by the SPE Plastivan, a mobile hands on learning lab for students to learn all about the world of plastics. Beaverton educators will continue to connect learning to real-world processes using the SPE Hands on Plastics Kits in science classes throughout the year.

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