Associate Professor of Chemistry Kelly B. Butzler made the proclamation from a lab on the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus: “I tell my kids all the time, nerds rule the world. If you want to be successful, be a nerd, be smart.”

Summer is a great time to remind kids that being smart is fun and learning opens up a lifetime of opportunities.

Why be a nerd? Because nerds figure out how things work and how to make things work better. They follow their curiosity, experiment with new ideas and come up with innovations that really can change the world.

If your kids are begging for another trip to the craft store so they can buy more glue to make slime, invite them to join you for tomorrow’s broadcast premiere of the fourth episode in the Working Class public television series. (Slime is involved!)

In Working Class: Competition Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters science, experimentation and competition come together to help students develop the problem-solving skills needed for high-demand, high-tech careers.

Produced by Penn College and WVIA Public Media, the documentary — premiering on WVIA TV Thursday, July 12, at 8 p.m. — highlights hands-on activities that connect students with science and other academic subjects that can prepare them for success in modern manufacturing careers.

Kellyl Butzler

“I think the most important part of science, whether it’s physics or geology or chemistry or biology, is really understanding the thought process … to work through a certain problem and get a result and know what that means,” says Dr. Butzler, who appears with other faculty and industry experts in the episode.

Viewers will catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse as students work through the challenges (scientific and otherwise) involved in designing and building combative robots and cars featured in international engineering/racing competitions. These competitive learning experiences prepare students for their futures, according to one faculty member.

“It makes them more marketable,” says Richard K. Hendricks, automated manufacturing and machining instructor at Penn College. “Companies see that they’re learning … designing, building, manufacturing, re-engineering, welding … It ups their value exponentially.”

Richard Hendricks

I hope you will tune in to learn more about the value of combining hands-on experience with academic learning in order to prepare students for future success.

Working Class: Discovery Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters features students and faculty from Penn College; Firetree Place in Williamsport; Warrior Run, Bloomsburg and Jersey Shore school districts; Rage in the Cage combative robot competition, and Society of Automotive Engineers’ Baja international racing competition.

Penn College faculty appearing in the episode are Eric K. Albert, associate professor, automated manufacturing and machining; Adam Barilla, instructor, plastics and polymer technology; Kelly B. Butzler, associate professor, chemistry; Kirk M. Cantor, professor, plastics and polymer technology; Richard K. Hendricks, Jr., instructor, automated manufacturing and machining; Joshua J. Rice, instructor, plastics and polymer technology; David S. Richards, professor, physics; Tom Van Pernis, former instructor, plastics and polymer technology, and Timothy E. Weston, associate professor, plastics and polymer technology.

Also featured are Jennifer McNelly, former president of The Manufacturing Institute; Jon Doctorick, Carnegie Science Center mobile fab lab coordinator; Kurt Wertman, teacher at Warrior Run Middle School, and Kirk Marshall, technology education teacher at Bloomsburg Area High School and organizer of regional Rage in the Cage events.

It’s never too soon to start talking careers with kids. Tim Weston, Penn College professor, talks plastics with young campers.

Working Class: Discovery Drives Innovation! Why Science Matters is the fourth in a series of Telly Award-winning documentaries that connect career awareness and academic subjects. In addition to public television broadcast, series videos appear on YouTube and the website.

SMARTgirls (Science and Math Applications in Real World Technologies at Penn College) apply their skills with Professor Eric Albert.

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