Four Kutztown Area Middle School students are working to break the stereotypes surrounding one of the nation’s most important industries by promoting awareness of the manufacturing field.
Eighth graders Marisa Berger, Kayley Derr, Julia Perella and Fiora Schnell are creating a video to compete in the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing contest, which will feature teams from across Pennsylvania. The contest was created in 2013 by the Manufacturers’ Resource Center in Allentown.
Each school participating in the competition works with a different company to discover what manufacturing is actually like. Kutztown’s team had the opportunity to tour WORLD Electronics in Reading in November to learn about their company and capture footage for their video.
“It was cool to see all the machines going and all the different people that had to work through different stages…to get the end product,” said Perella.
The students all agreed that their perceptions of manufacturing before beginning the project were much different than their perceptions are now.
“[The factory] was very clean,” said Berger. “I didn’t think that it would be that clean. I thought it would be dirty and loud and not very bright, but it was clean, it was bright, and it was quiet.”
These types of misperceptions are ones that the students believe are common in other middle schoolers, older students and adults.
“I think the stereotypes are pretty strong, just a grey building with a whole bunch of people wearing the same outfit and making the same thing, doing the same thing every day,” said Schnell.
The students are looking to highlight the common misunderstandings regarding careers in the field of manufacturing in an effort to reverse the trend of young adults pursuing such a career path. In recent years, less and less new workforce members have entered into manufacturing, which is what led to the creation of this competition in the first place.
Derr and Berger were especially expressive about the importance of high school seniors considering this career path as one potential alternative to a college education for those who are looking to join the workforce following graduation.
“[High school] is the main place that we are directing this towards, and the middle school, too, just so that you can be aware that that’s a choice when you get to that point, but mostly people who are graduating [high school],” said Derr.
During the visit to WORLD Electronics, Derr acted as the producer, asking the interview questions that would later be included in the group’s video. Perella and Schnell were responsible for camera work and Berger handled most of the editing process after the film had been collected.
“We had over an hour of footage, and then we cut everything together and now we have less than two and a half minutes,” said Berger.
“We had to decide what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to get rid of,” said Derr, “So we watched the whole thing and wrote down what we liked, and then Marisa had to edit some of it out.”
Since the project began in November, the students have kept to a schedule to ensure that it would be finished on time.
“We had to have things done by specific due dates, like for the A-roll, which is basically just the storyline and the audio, we had to have that done by a specific date, and then we layered on top of that the B-roll, which is all the action shots and pictures and videos of the things that we saw [at WORLD Electronics],” said Perella.
Now that the project is nearly finished, the group will be competing for votes against more than 30 other middle schools in Berks and Schuylkill counties for a chance to move on to the next round of competition, where winners from 16 regions across the state will vie for recognition as the top videos in Pennsylvania.
To watch the video and vote, visit www.whatssocool.org and find the Berks Schuylkill region under 2019 contests. Voting for the competition will run from Feb. 27 to March 1, and the public can vote as many times as desired.