Surprising Material Molds Young Manufacturers

Posted By: Krista Maurer on November 05, 2015

Educators in Snohomish, Washington, have discovered a source material that young students are hungry to work with: chocolate.
Started last year, a popular summer camp dubbed “Chocolate Factory” is run by the Snohomish School District and takes place through the Science & Arts Academy at Snohomish High School. Classes are open to students entering grades 1-8.
“Chocolate Factory is a great way to engage young students in the design and manufacturing process,” said Matt Johnson, Snohomish High School and camp instructor. “Classes fill up quickly.”
Students do everything from use CAD software to tour a Seattle chocolate factory. They learn how to:
  • Make chocolate bar molds
  • Use vacuum forming
  • Laser engrave their own design
  • Melt chocolate through the tempering process
  • Design a cover to advertise their new creation
Johnson said that chocolate shares properties in common with metal and this approach is a fun way to learn, without needing a lot of equipment.
The best part? Students get to eat the results of their work and take their mold home to show off their new chocolate-making skills to friends and family.
“For once, scrap isn’t bad,” said Johnson. “If you mess up, you get to eat your mistake and start over.”
Johnson said that the program has been very effective in getting elementary and middle school children excited about making things.
“It’s a safe, fun, engaging way for young students to see manufacturing,” said Johnson. “Students get to use technology, use their hands.”
Several sessions take place during the summer, from 9am-1pm Monday through Thursday. Classes are capped at 20 students.
Chocolate Factory shows how innovation (and a little chocolate!) can attract the next generation of manufacturers and is a sweet model for other schools across the country.
--Krista Maurer, Educational Specialist, Government and Education Group

Tags: brainstorming, "Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap", feedback, "Jeannine Kunz", "learning opportunities", millennials, purpose, "Tooling U-SME"