Using Hands-on Tools To Explore In-Demand Careers: How a NC County Engages Students in CTE

Using Hands-on Tools To Explore In-Demand Careers: How a NC County Engages Students in CTE

Guilford County Schools (GCS) in North Carolina recently acquired a variety of Realityworks learning aids for a series of Career Accelerator Summer Programs through federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. The programs introduce students to in-demand careers in health science, agriculture, and trades. Some of the career and technical education (CTE) camps include Seeds and Sprouts; Animal House; Med – EMT; Med – Medical Assisting; and Welding, Wiring, and Electrical Trades (WWE).

“CTE is the ultimate classroom-to-career experience… We are really excited that our CTE programming helps to engage our students at all levels with their area of career interest and really provides authentic, meaningful experiences in the classroom and beyond.”

Dr. Holly Pore
Executive Director of CTE at GCS

The goal of these camps is to give students a glimpse into in-demand careers they could pursue and high school classes they could take. The camps are open to any GCS students who want to register. The agriculture camps are geared toward middle school students, and the health science and trades camps are focused on high school students.

Student Studies the Goat ModelTeacher Uses the Closed Fracture Trauma Manikin to TeachStudents use the VR Welding Simulator

“We start as early as pre-K, inspiring students to dream and dream without borders all the way through high school, where they are able to engage in more authentic experiences to prepare them for the world of work,” said Dr. Pore. “Our superintendent, Dr. Oakley, really wants to expose our students to various post-secondary pathways. That includes employment, enrichment, enlistment, and entrepreneurship.” 

The day camps are free to attend, with food and transportation provided. Students spend four to six hours immersed in exploring in-demand careers each day of the seven-day camp. The students enter the camps with a variety of career aspirations from army medics and pharmacy technicians to veterinarians.  

“The hands-on skills that are provided with these [learning aids] fit perfectly, and it really provides a very rich experience for our students… Realityworks has been a great partner for Guilford County CTE department for a number of years. The products that are provided and are available match very well with our programs.”

Vernon Mc Ham,
Director of Operations CTE

GCS received training on their new learning aids directly from Realityworks staff the week before the camp. Laura Brawley, Account Manager, was one of the Realityworks employees who assisted GCS staff with implementing the tools. She witnessed students in the health science camps using the hands-on equipment.

Guilford County Students use the AED Trainer“The minute they got up and started working with the equipment… they started getting so engaged. Just seeing that hands-on engagement with the students, I felt like they just lit up and woke up. It was really incredible,” said Brawley. “We can learn by listening, but many of us really get excited about learning by doing. We remember that even more.” 

In Camp WWE, students learn about power, structure, and technical systems. One of the tools used in this camp is the guideWELD® VR welding simulator. This simulator lets users refine basic welding skills. They can also learn proper welding techniques and explore in-demand careers in welding while saving on costly consumables.  

Class learns from the Electrical Wiring KitClass uses the Welding Defects and VR to Learn Welding“You can use it to learn your skills to see if you can actually feel like you can succeed in [welding] as a career,” Cecelia McDowell, a GCS student, said about the welding simulator. “You can see if you have a passion and interest in it.” 

Students in Camp WWE also used the RealCareer™ Electrical Wiring Kit. This kit gives students a safe, hands-on lesson in wiring common electrical circuits. The portable, battery-operated kit provides instant assessment and corrective feedback. Additionally, the included curriculum features 16 student-led exercises. 

“I feel the products give you more of a realistic simulation versus going out and actually using raw materials then wasting those raw materials if you’re messing up. You get to practice here and learn,” said Derrick Tabron, Electronics CTE Teacher. 

GCS is measuring the success of the camps through enrollment numbers, student surveys, and increased interest/registration for CTE courses in the fall. They also surveyed the teachers to see if they learned new skills as well.  In the future, they hope to combine the Animal House and Seeds and Sprouts camps into one, add more health science camps, and create a STEM camp. 

“These items that Realityworks provides help us to enhance the instruction,” said Mc Ham. “It helps us to kind of bridge that gap between the industry and education, and we want to make sure that we’re providing these experiences for our students.”




Learning tools used:

guideWELD VR Welding Simulator

guideWELD® VR welding simulator

Use the guideWELD® VR welding simulator to help students explore welding career paths and master welding fundamentals while you save on costly consumables.

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Electrical Wiring Kit

RealCareer™ Electrical Wiring Kit

The RealCareer™ Electrical Wiring Kit gives students a safe, hands-on lesson in wiring common electrical circuits. The portable, battery-operated kit provides instant assessment and corrective feedback.

View Details