Learn2Build spurs kids’ curiosity in construction careers

By: Emily Sweeney

Jonny Hendrickson learns best when you can answer his two favorite questions: why things work, and how to make things work better.

That’s why the sixth-grader from Sunrise Park Middle School participated in White Bear Lake Area High School’s recent Learn2Build event, one of several daylong programs hosted throughout Minnesota this summer to introduce middle school students to careers in construction and the building trades.

Learn2Build is a statewide program designed to increase awareness about careers in the construction building trades among middle school students throughout Minnesota. Construction Careers Foundation funds the program and caters to kids in grades 4-9 by applying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to “real-world” construction materials and processes through fun, take-home projects.

Jonny’s first project was to build a marshmallow launcher. While other students went right to cutting PVC pipe, Jonny focused first on the blueprint. He reviewed all of the parts required and began building, modifying and re-building his launcher.

“Mine looks different from the others,” Jonny said. “It has a longer barrel. I want to be able to put two or three marshmallows in at one time.”

Learn2Build introduces middle school students to careers in construction and the building trades. Jonny followed a blueprint to measure and cut PVC pipe for his modified marshmallow launcher. Photo Credit:Emily Sweeney

White Bear Lake Area Schools Career Pathways navigator Jenny Moore encouraged Jonny and others to be creative and artistic with their projects.
“These students love to work with their hands,” Moore said, “they like to move around. So we want to honor that and help them see that as a strength.”

Jonny’s creativity and fascination with how things work has piqued his interest in the trades and construction work. He even takes on construction projects outside of the classroom with his dad.

“We’re almost done with a canoe trailer. We just have to make it sturdier,” Jonny said. “Sometimes people compliment us on it. They tell us that it’s pretty cool.”

Jonny and other students smile after completing a construction themed relay race. White Bear Lake Area High School’s Learn2Build participants did a construction relay race and took home two construction-inspired projects. Photo Credit:Emily Sweeney

Jonny plans to explore different construction trades-related classes when he gets to high school, such as metals and woodshop. Learn2Build and Career Pathway navigators such as Moore, can help connect students, such as Jonny, with teachers and a wide network of industry partners throughout the State of Minnesota if he decides to pursue a career in construction.

For now, he will continue to brainstorm and create new projects with his dad and learn to work with metals.

“(I like) TIG welders, MIG welders and plasma cutters – they’re super cool,” Jonny said.

To learn more about Learn2Build, visit ConstructionCareers.org/programs.