Take this job and love it: Children help out, examine livelihoods at PSU’s take kids to work day

lfalce@centredaily.comApril 24, 2014 

Amber Graham lights up when she talks about the future. She might become a forensics tech, if she’s not a veterinarian.

The 12-year-old from Bald Eagle Area was one of the dozens of children who turned out to try on different careers at Penn State on Thursday for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. In 43 locations around campus, in departments from human resources to hazardous materials disposal and anthropology to the nuclear reactor, activities showed children what kind of jobs were out there, and what kind of work they might do in that profession.

Would-be vet Amber got the real poop on her possible career.

“First thing I did was dilate animal feces,” she said. That means the children examined in droppings to see what they could find. “Then we looked for parasites under a microscope!”

They also bandaged the legs of a stuffed horse and learned how to stitch up a wound.

“I like animals,” said Sydney Johnson, 12, of Bald Eagle Area. “ I’m not sure what I want to do yet. There’s like five different things.”

Sydney called herself a future Penn State student. She visited the university dairy barns, where she learned how to hook up a milking machine, saw different types of bedding and explored the different types of bacteria that might affect the calves.

“She’s begged to do this for years,” said mom Susan Johnson, a Student Health Center employee. “She’s finally in sixth grade and old enough to come.”

Helena Dean, 15, of Bald Eagle Area, isn’t quite sure what she wants to do, but she took the opportunity to explore different ideas, including law enforcement.

Campus police helped the children collect evidence, dust for fingerprints and track down a culprit. In their mock case, a bomb threat was called in to Penn State.

The students figured out that the perpetrator was bitter rival Ohio State. No charges are being filed, the children said.

The parents were pleased with the exposure to potential careers, even if they know their kids haven’t found a glass slipper just yet.

“This is our third year,” said Dean’s mother, Donna, a Pattee-Paterno Library employee.

“We’re already looking at the list to see what we want to do next year,” said Amber Graham’s grandmother, Pamela Koleno, from the College of Engineering.

Lori Falce can be contacted at 231-3910. Follow her on Twitter @LoriFalce.

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