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March 20, 2007 > Fremont teachers learn "What's Up In Factories"

Fremont teachers learn "What's Up In Factories"

Modern manufacturing plants are a far cry from the dirty, noisy dangerous factories of earlier generations. A wide variety of skilled professionals are needed to run today's highly efficient production operations where only a small fraction of jobs are on the assembly line. Far more career opportunities in 21st century industry are in design, engineering, planning, finance, logistics, law, personnel management, marketing, information systems and robotics.

To help Fremont students understand that manufacturing can offer many fulfilling careers, the Fremont Education Foundation has teamed with New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association and Thirteen/WNET Public Television in New York City to present an instructional unit titled "What's Up In Factories? Exploring the New World of Manufacturing."

Thirty-six teachers from Fremont Unified School District junior high and high schools and the Fremont Adult School attended a March 13 workshop at NUMMI to study an instructional package developed by WNET that includes a video tape, a teacher's manual and access to interactive Internet sites. The workshop also was designed to familiarize teachers with effective techniques for using the program in classes.

The lessons include the history and process of manufacturing and demonstrate the various stages of producing a product from design through marketing and sales. The unit is intended to culminate with student tours of the NUMMI plant next fall.

Instructor Suzanne Guthrie said the program is part of a WNET school-to-work series created to introduce educators to resources available in their local business community. It also introduces teachers to new ways to use media in the classroom, she said. The program started with the production of the "What's Up In Factories?" documentary in 1993, she said. JAMA has sponsored the series at a Honda plant in Alabama for the past four years and wanted to focus on a different area of the country this year.

Since NUMMI is the only auto manufacturing facility on the Pacific Coast, it was a natural candidate.
JAMA provided a $15,000 grant to the Fremont Education Foundation for materials, instructional time and student transportation to NUMMI tours. FUSD is the only school district in the United States where the program will be offered this year.

One of the objects of the training program is to help teachers recognize ways that ideas about manufacturing careers can be incorporated into virtually any subject area. Irvington High School English teacher Natalia Skolnik said she is designing a lesson plan that will combine reading the play "Death of Salesman" with resume writing by having her students write resumes for characters in the play. "I'm having fun," Skolnik said of the training. "It's exciting to learn new ways to help students see applications of their school work to career opportunities they can see right here in Fremont."

Hopkins Junior High School teacher Pat Winget said the program will help broaden students' view of industry. "The program will help them see different aspects of life and learn that there is more than one type of white-collar job." She said the program also will teach students the importance of leadership. "The video will show them how people organized themselves to correct things that were wrong." Her students will really enjoy the tour of the NUMMI plant, she said. "I know they will love the robots."

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