A few decades ago, a student in Brad Wheeler’s classroom may not have ever heard of an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone. Today however, drone operators are a high demand career field.
Wheeler, who now serves as the chair of the Cobb County School District (CCSD) Board of Education, caught up with one of his former students at the district’s recent Future Fest. His student now runs a company that employs drones to do roof inspections on buildings. The Board Chair’s former student attended the event to educate students about career opportunities that use the modern flying technology.
That’s why Future Fest was created.
“We are doing this to promote the careers of the future that our students may not know even exist. The idea is to expose the students to different careers and activities that are interactive,” added Jackie Brown, CCSD supervisor of career, technology and agriculture education (CTAE).
Brown’s CTAE team invited more than 1,000 students to explore the 45 exhibits that concentrated on high-demand career fields including construction, architecture, technology, and healthcare science as well as business and culinary fields.
“I definitely think we should have more programs like this open to students so they can figure out what they want to do in life,” said McEachern High School senior Myles, who was amazed by what he saw at Future Fest.
Chairman Wheeler agreed with Myles and emphasized how the world is changing and it’s important for students to know about the jobs that will be available to them in the future.
During Future Fest, students were able to interact with technology like drones that may help them in their jobs one day.
“[One company has] a hologram display where students are able to interact with the hologram of specific body parts. They are able to pull it off the window and manipulate it so they really get an interactive learning experience,” explained Brown.
Local businesses were not the only ones looking to educate students at Future Fest.
Student members of the Kell Robotics Club used a robot that they designed to shoot balls into the air and collect them. Students, teachers, and business owners alike watched, and sometimes dodged, the yellow balls that popped out of the student-controlled robot. The robotics organization is a group of high school students that work year round to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education while making a dedicated effort to reach out to a highly diverse population.
“We come to events like [Future Fest] to get our message out there. We are trying to get more kids into robotics because it really is a life changing opportunity,” explained Danielle, a senior at Kennesaw Mountain High School and executive director of Kell Robotics. “We’ve had several teachers come up and ask how they can get robotics into their schools.”
Danielle is one of the 15 members of the Kell Robotics Team, which includes students from Kell High School, Kennesaw Mountain High School, and North Cobb High School as well as some students outside of Cobb schools.
Danielle, who plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology and study mechanical engineering in the fall, also took the opportunity at Future Fest to encourage girls to get involved in robotics.
“We have had several girls come by, and we have tried to make them understand that [robotics] is not just a boy’s activity. You can learn a lot of different things, programming and design,” added Danielle.”
After the students explored all the interactive exhibits from virtual reality goggles and an excavator to the robot and drones, Chairman Wheeler best summarized the students experience at Future Fest
“This has been a wonderful day,” the board chair declared after catching a glimpse of what the future has to offer Cobb students.
Go behind the scenes at Future Fest 2018 with the following Cobb edTV video: http://goo.gl/9euEpX