Thursday, July 28, 2011

Skills Work - At Camp!

Mohawk College, STARRT Institute, Stoney Creek

Uh-oh.  Now I can’t decide which camp I like better.  And I still have three more to go!

I spent the week of July 11th at the Stoney Creek campus of Mohawk College.  It was pretty cool, because the whole campus seems to be all about skilled trades!  And since there weren’t too many people around, we got to use all the recreation stuff at lunch that the students normally use – like ping pong tables!

On the first day, a guy named Eric came to talk to us about safety.  He told us about his first job when he was 16.  During his first week, a crane operator asked him to help guide a steel wall to an area of the factory.  Eric ended up having his lower half crushed by the wall!  I couldn’t believe he could talk about it so calmly!   Our leaders, Jen and Shannon, talked to us about how safety is extra important to younger people.  They said younger people often don’t feel comfortable asking for help on the job because they don’t want to seem incompetent.  Eric said himself that he clearly remembers thinking “isn’t there someone else more qualified around to help with this?”  That was a scary start to the week, but seeing Eric so positive really helped to make it less scary!

One workshop I really liked was woodworking.  Our workshop leader was Shari, and she taught us how to make toolboxes.  I really liked trying out the power tools, like the drill press and the band saw.  And then we painted our toolboxes!  Shari’s been teaching at Mohawk for a long time, and she let us keep the hand tools we used to make our toolboxes, which was really nice of her.  Then, in the afternoon, we decorated cakes!  It wasn’t quite the same as being in a big fancy kitchen and making a whole meal, but it was a lot of fun.  And it was delicious!

Tour day was weird, only because our two tours were so different from each other.  We went to Laurenzo’s School of Hair Design in the morning.  It’s a training centre for learning hairstyling.  The apprentices there taught us about different hairstyling techniques.  I had no idea how much there was to it!  It’s a really creative skilled trade.  The students showed us the mannequin heads they practice on, which are incredibly creepy.  But you can do crazy designs with all kinds of colours on a mannequin head, where a real person might not like it so much!   All of us got free haircuts and styles, and one of the other campers even got a mohawk! 

We spent the afternoon touring Dofasco.  Dofasco is a huge company that makes steel.  We got to see the parts of the facility where they do all the repairs for everything, and we had to wear a lot of safety gear, including hard hats.  (Unfortunately, that was the end of the mohawk, but after listening to Eric’s story, I’m a safety kind of guy!)  At the end of the tour, we were given toolkits that included a tape measure, flashlight, pliers and wire strippers by David, who helped arrange the tour.  I love free stuff!  And now I have more items for my toolbox!

I’m still having a great time, and I can’t wait to try the next activities!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Skills Work - At Camp!

Cambrian College, Sudbury

Hi everyone!  This is Nikki.  You’ll all be pleased to know that I’m a lot less terrified than I was before camp.  I haven’t done a lot of this hands-on kind of stuff, and I was pretty scared of looking dumb…or hurting myself.  But I did just fine.  In fact, I had a lot of fun!

I spent my first week at camp at Cambrian College.  I was sooo nervous because I thought I would be the only girl, but I wasn’t.  And we did so many different things with the professors from the college, and with our camp leaders Mo and Will, that I didn’t have time to be nervous!

One of our workshops was AutoCAD, with Phil.  Lots of people in industry use AutoCAD to make technical drawings of all kinds of stuff – airplane parts, musical instruments, even houses!  We used it to make drawings of race cars.  I’m pretty good at computers. I use MSN and Facebook and I make games and stuff all the time, so I figured it would be way easy.  But this was trickier than I thought it would be.  I liked it anyway, though, because it was challenging.

The next day was super busy.  We started with an electrical workshop.  I thought it would be boring, but again I was surprised.  There’s a lot that goes into wiring different types of electrical things, as I found out from our workshop leaders, Marcia and Scott.  We kind of moved to different stations, working on a panel, and wiring a switch, an outlet and a motor.  When I have my own house someday, I’m totally going to wire outlets and stuff in it, just because I can!

In the afternoon, we went on a tour of CBC radio.  We totally got to make our own news broadcast!  It was really, really cool.  Like we were real newscasters!  There was a weather person out on the street, and everything!  Our tour was led by Markus Schwabe, who hosts Morning North on CBC.  I think my parents listen to him and I thought it was totally lame that they listen to CBC radio.  But Markus was so nice, maybe I’ll start listening too.  When I’m not sleeping in!

I really liked our carpentry workshop.  The workshop leader was Steve, who I found out also volunteers at the big skilled trades competition that Skills Canada – Ontario has in the spring every year.  Steve showed us how to make wooden boxes.  I didn’t know that glue is used so much in woodworking.  I thought it was nails.  But the nails are only to hold everything together until the glue dries!  Anyway, now I have a good hiding place to keep my stuff away from my little brother.  And I made it myself!

Not gonna lie, I was pretty surprised by my first week.  I had a lot of fun, and I met some really nice kids, and I got to try all kinds of new stuff!  I don’t know that I’ve picked a career out of just one week, but I definitely have way more to think about.  Maybe I’ll get more ideas at the next camp!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Skills Work - At Camp!

Humber College, North Campus

Hi!  Tyrone here, still recovering from my first week at camp!  Last week, I checked out the camp at Humber College in Toronto.  It was amazing!  Humber offers training in so many different trades and technologies, and some of the professors actually volunteered their time to teach us a bit about their areas of expertise.  We did so many workshops and activities, and even went offsite for a day.  What a great week!

Our first workshop was all about HVAC – that’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning.  We got to use welding torches – awesome!!  We also did an activity with electrical currents, hooking up an electrical circuit.  Our workshop leader was Mary, who teaches HVAC at Humber.  I found out afterward that Mary has also been a mentor with the “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner program and a judge for the Cardboard Boat Races!  Anyway, nobody told me I was going to get to play with torches this week.  I’m always the last to know everything!

On Wednesday, we did an electrical workshop – all about pipes.  I didn’t know pipes were used so much in electrical work, but they’re often used to insulate wires, protect them from being touched or bumped, or even just to bunch them together so everything looks neat.  We bent those plastic and metal pipes into all different shapes with fancy tools and our big muscles!  (Okay, the heat and tools helped…so did our leaders.)  This time, our workshop leader was Tony and he was really nice.  I bet he’s good at electrical stuff.

Our off-site trip for the week was to a place called Build-It-Yourself Learning Centre.  It was a huge workshop and classroom and we made birdhouses, right from scratch!  Our teacher was Ian, and taught us so much stuff!  He taught us how to use all the tools – hammers, saws and measuring tapes, and about safety in the workshop.  He even talked about how we can become carpenters someday.  I’m not sure I want to be a carpenter, but my birdhouse is pretty sweet and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of showing it off!

On Friday, we got to do some cooking!  My mom was really excited when she found out I would be learning how to cook something.  She’s been trying to get me to do that for ages!  After this workshop, I just might be more willing to volunteer.  I mean, come on.  We made pizza!  And it was amazing!  Chef Trevor really knows his stuff!  Before we got started, he taught us a bit about induction stoves.  An induction stove only heats the pot or pan, and the pot or pan heats the food.  One of our leaders, April, actually gave Chef Trevor a fifty dollar bill to put under a pot of water because he said it wouldn’t burn. He was right, but I can’t believe she trusted him!  Fifty bucks!!  Anyway, then we split into pairs and made pizza.  My favourite part was eating it.  I’m a pretty good pizza-maker, if I do say so myself!

What an awesome, awesome week.  I can’t wait to see what the next camp has in store for me!!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Highlights of the 2010-2011 from some of our Liaison staff!

The main part of our job as Liaison Officers is to deliver presentations in schools so that students are aware of the opportunities available in skilled trades and technologies.  We are often asked “doesn’t it get repetitive, doing the same presentation over and over?”  The short answer: yes and no.  The other programs and events we plan and assist with break up the school year.  And more often than not, the schools and the kids are game changers.  To celebrate the end of the school year, and the beginning of summer, we've put together a few examples.

Jessica Murphy, Thunder Bay:

It was the last day of a week long road trip that saw me going to places that few roads travelled beyond. My first stop of the last day brought me to Hudson, Ontario and a one-hallway school with only about 4 rooms in it. I arrived a bit early, so the teacher asked if I’d like to come with her to the breakfast room.  I followed her down to the breakfast room – which was exactly that....a room where all of the students from the entire school sat and ate breakfast together.  There were only about 20 students in the entire school and they all sat at 4 different tables eating breakfast together.  One table had the K- grade 2 students, then there were the grade 3 & 4 students, the 5 & 6 students and finally the table of grades 7 & 8 students.  When they were all finished they were told to bring their dishes to the back sink which they all did – even the little wee students, the “big kids” helped them reach to get their dishes in the sink.  Once everyone was back in their seats, a teacher turned around, hit Play on the tape player and on came Oh Canada. When it was time to go to their classroom, the youngest students all held hands and made their way their room. Eventually the grades 7 & 8 students made it back to their room at which point I got to present to four fantastic students.

All the students had their eye out for the others and there was such a feeling of admiration and respect among all of the students.  As I left the school, my eyes watered a little bit, as it was just announced in March that this school would be closing at the end of this school year.  I can’t help but feel as though these kids are forever changed with the experiences they had at Hudson School, and I can definitely say that I am forever changed and that Hudson School has definitely left a lasting impact that I will always carry with me.  Thanks for the memories Hudson!

Mauricio Ospina, Sudbury:

Something that surprised me from my first Cardboard Boat Race was that the biggest smiles of the day came when the boats sank!  That surprised me because, after all, when the boat sinks is when you’re done the competition... you’re out!  So when I saw the huge smiles I was blown away and noticed how much fun this event really is for all the participants.  They work hard on their boats, want to win the race and paddle as hard as they can, want to have the most weight for 90 seconds, but at the end of the day they HAVE FUN and laugh when the boat sinks!  Wonderful to see!

Shannon Skinner, Toronto:

In early June, I was scheduled for a day of presentations at a high school.  Part of the way through one of my afternoon presentations, the fire alarm went off in the building!  Apparently, the system will react to very high temperatures – whether or not there is smoke or fire.  This one definitely wins an award for being one of the stranger mishaps that has occurred during one of my presentations.  Just goes to show, our in-school presentation is too hot to handle!

April Albano, Kitchener:

I am new and most of the moments thus far have been memorable.  One of the moments that stands out to me was at the Closing Ceremony for the Ontario Technological Skills Competition.  I was carrying the various medals, scholarship notices and awards to the winners from backstage.  I went on stage to hand out the School Board Award (given to the Board that achieves the highest combined score during the OTSC).   The gentleman I gave it to started tearing up and hoisted the trophy in the air.  I learned later that this man was the main contact for his school board - the Halton District School Board - and after many years of competing, his board had finally won the big award.  He was so thrilled!  It opened my eyes to the dedication of the individuals that are involved with Skills Canada-Ontario, and how important our programs are to so many schools, school boards and individuals across Ontario. 

Devon Turcotte, Woodbridge:

Over the years, I have planned and supported a number of “Skills Work! for Women” Networking Dinners.  But this year,  I had the challenge of establishing this amazing event in brand new territory – Durham region.  After piles of emails and hours of phone calls, and the assistance of countless teachers and school board connections, I finally managed to scrape together 24 students to attend the dinner.  As these girls went through the evening, I could almost see their eyes opening more and more and more.  One student approached me at the end of the evening and said “this is amazing!  I really think I could do these jobs!”  And then in one of my last presentations of the year, a student approached me and told me she had attended the dinner.  She is interested in becoming an auto service technician, and had been for a long time, but she was really amazed to find out how many other doors would open for her once she obtained her license.  What a great treat!  I was thrilled to hear that she was even more inspired to continue on her path, and connected her with another woman who had been a mentor in past, but wasn’t able to attend this particular dinner.

Scott Verhoeve, Kitchener:

In the weeks that I have been a Liaison Officer, the date that stands out to me is May 9. It was a seminal day for me:  I formally hit the road for a week of training with my fellow new cohort, April, in the shadow of a more experienced Liaison Officer, Brieanna Holm.  The Ontario Technological Skills Competition had left me feeling more a part of the staff team, and we headed to present in my home town and at the school where I had just completed several months of practice teaching as a student teacher.   Although I wasn’t presenting that morning – I had the good fortune of watching Brie do her job – I knew many students in the audience after teaching in several grade 10 classes over the last two semesters. And the combination of listening to the presentation and knowing many of the students really crystallized for me the importance of our role and the fact that these students are real people with huge potential and big decisions ahead of them. Although I am still working at doing this well, that day motivates me to try to connect with my audience as though they are all students that I know personally.