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TAPPI Service Project . . . Virtually

COVID will not stop the passion and drive of the student TAPPI chapter’s service projects.  Jesse Price as well as Matthew Klassa, Camille Brule and Natalie Laux, all juniors in PSE, reached out to Ms. Richey’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes to talk about Paper Science and Engineering. Ms. Amanda Richey is the K-5 STEM Specialist at Brentwood Magnet Elementary School of Engineering located in Raleigh. She has been teaching her students about the various careers in engineering and had a section in her curriculum for Paper Science Engineering. She needed some career representatives to talk to her classes and had reached out to our program for help.

The Plethora of Paper Products

TAPPI looks for opportunities to take paper into the community and excitedly put together a virtual presentation for the students. The current students talked about the plethora of paper products in our lives today, how paper was made, and what it was like to work in the industry. They were able to borrow some equipment from the Pulp and Paper Labs and demonstrate how to make handsheets while at home. After joining Ms. Richey’s class in google meet, she turned the presentation over to the students.

Paper Produces Passion and Online can’t Stop it

Jesse Price commented “I must say, it was very interesting to sit in on a virtual elementary class – I felt like I was seeing the grade school classes of my past superimposed in the google meeting. The classroom ended up looking the same as a college classroom over an online format – there were students who contributed more and those who preferred not to turn on their camera. There were students who came in late because they were finishing up their lunch, and those who had family activity in the background. Students had to unmute themselves to speak, then put themselves back on mute afterwards and with the comfortable level to which these students moved in and out of zoom, it was like this had been how school was run their whole lives. The elementary students were pros at virtual classes.”

The energy and creativity from the students could not be hampered. It showed in their reactions to the content shared about paper: amazement at the size and speed of modern paper machines, outraged when told that certain paper products are found in things like ice cream and ketchup, and wonder when shown how a cloudy suspension of fibers in water can be turned into a sheet that can be written on, folded, and torn. The wave of questions that followed carried us into their next class time, and the experience left each one of the TAPPI members feeling exhilarated and hopeful for the future.

The End Results…I want to be Paper Engineer

Jesse Price also commented, “I think my favorite part of it all was seeing the students’ reactions scroll up in the chat box as the demonstration was underway. In particular, there was one comment that really made my day – a student who said, “I want to be a paper engineer.”

By guest blogger Jesse Price