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STEM camp helps students learn about the trades industry

A summer camp in Syracuse is focusing on fun experiments for local kids, while exposing them to potential in-demand careers.

Justyce Brown, 12, said she had so much fun at National Grid’s Trades Camp, it was hard to pick just one favorite part.

"I have two,” said Brown. “The racing and the exercise part, and building a tower with noodles."

Brown joined more than 40 students, ages 10-12, at Mercy Works in Syracuse to take part in hands-on science projects.

Mary Eileen Wood from Terra Science and Education helped with the camp and said the experiments expose the kids to valuable careers in the trades industry.

"We hear a lot about, ‘Go to college,’ and science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Wood. “But if you get a lot of engineers in a room planning something, and you don't have trades people to build it and make it, nothing happens."

The campers also had the chance to interact with National Grid equipment and speak with staff about the variety of careers available to students with a passion for science.

Timothy Graham, Vice President of Gas Operations for National Grid, said the experiments help students start to understand mechanics.

“Just understanding how a wrench works, they could do that,” said Graham. “That’s the same wrench they’re using on a big truck, or they’re using to put through HVAC systems.”

Graham said having a diverse workforce is a priority for the company, and he hopes camps like these will help.

A Pew Research Poll shows more than two-thirds of STEM workers in the U.S. are white.

"Companies like mine, National Grid, need to reach out in these communities, and tell these kids these jobs are available for them and give them those opportunities,” said Graham. “And that's what this trades camp does. It's a small piece, but it's a start."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.