Eighth-graders explore world of work at career fair

Rick Wagner • Feb 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Area eighth-graders are gathering career information, advice and free online music downloads during this week’s Regional Eighth Grade Career Fair.

The annual event, sponsored by Eastman Chemical Co. and to be followed later this year by Career Expo for 11th-graders, presents an array of career options and some hands-on demonstrations. It began Tuesday at the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center and will continue each morning through Friday.

“It’s really eye opening what choices there are,” said Zach Espeland, 14, of Kingsport’s Ross N. Robinson Middle School.

Zach said he may become a stockbroker.

Cory Seguin, a 13-year-old eighth-grade classmate of Zach, said he had been considering a career in science or teaching but is leaning toward teaching.

And Chase Lawson, a 13-year-old from Surgoinsville Middle School, said he enjoyed the presentation by Patrolman Dale Farmer of the Kingsport Police Department’s Traffic Division, but he may go into construction.

“I came in wanting to do construction,” Chase said. “My whole family is in that.”

Other students expressed interest in becoming a pharmacist, surgeon, artist, veterinarian, lawyer, engineer or architect.

One of the interactive programs came from Mark Pollock, a math, engineering, chemistry and physical science professor from Northeast State Technical Community College.

The former Eastman research chemical engineer took gallon plastic juice jugs, sloshed around some 97 percent rubbing alcohol in them, and then lit the open ends — producing a flame that went from blue to orange.

Pollock said that was an exothermic reaction, one that produces energy — in this case heat — and moves it outward.

Eastman research biochemist Stephanie Clendennen demonstrated her work in developing new components for cosmetics. She works to develop new molecules, discover new molecules, and find new uses for molecules. She showed the students how to combine water, oil, an emulsifier that allows them to blend, and a thickening agent or polymer to make face cream.

Clendennen said her kind of science is a lot like cooking.

“It’s not just about chemistry,” Clendennen said of other skills. “I love what I do every day.”

Aside from chemistry and math, she also uses computer, reading, writing and public speaking skills.

Likewise, Eastman Chemical spokeswoman Betty Payne, who gave a presentation on media and communications, said students need a broad base of education no matter what their career. As a journalism student in college, Payne said she didn’t focus as much on math, science and social studies as she should have.

Payne was a news director, anchor and reporter for WKPT-TV 19, where she learned a lot of political science and social studies on the fly. She also worked on creative projects at an advertising agency and for a cable company before coming to Eastman three years ago, where she keeps a chemistry dictionary nearby.

Farmer, of the police department, said he uses geometry and algebra in accident reconstruction.

The common thread in the presentations, as well as a general assembly before the breakout sessions, was the need for post-high school education.

During the large meeting, students learned that minimum-wage jobs would pay about $14,248 a year compared to $31,200 for some jobs requiring a four-year degree.

Students were referred to www.swz.salary.com for more information.

Others schools attending Tuesday were Sullivan County’s Bluff City Middle and Hawkins County’s Bulls Gap Middle.

On Wednesday, students from Church Hill, Holston and Mary Hughes middle schools are to attend, followed by students from Sevier, Blountville and Sullivan on Thursday and Colonial Heights, Sullivan North and Rogersville on Friday.

All students who attend this week will receive a free online music download card from Eastman if they go to a Web site where they can learn more about, among other things, the Tennessee and Virginia Scholars Program.

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