By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Hands-on technology, equipment and other gadgets filled tables at the fifth annual Scott County career fair for eighth-graders March 4 at St. Ambrose University.
Students from Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf and All Saints Catholic, John F. Kennedy Catholic and St. Paul the Apostle Catholic schools in Davenport participated in the event along with 32 exhibitors.
“This is growing every year,” said Anna Schott, a counselor at JFK.
She noted that each year a winter formal is held to help raise funds for the fair, which allows the schools to address students’ emotional development, build fellowship, address academic development and teach about career options.
Leftover money from the past few years has been given to St. Ambrose for purchase of new banquet tables for the Rogalski Center. “We are returning a favor to them,” Schott said.
Meecheeca McNeal, counselor at All Saints, said this year’s exhibitors brought many more hands-on materials. The students were able to touch and use some of the equipment or see what it looks like.
Each student was able to attend 12 presentations, take a tour St. Ambrose and have lunch with their fellow Catholic school eighth-graders. Leigh Johnson, counselor at Lourdes, said the career fair also gets students thinking about what elective classes they may want to take in high school to prepare for college.
Barb Park, a physical therapist with Genesis Health Systems in Davenport, told her group of students that the body has 45 miles of nerves. Donna Schronick, an optometric assistant at Riverside Family Eye care in Davenport and LeClaire, showed a vision machine and a laptop computer with a picture of the retina and what it looks like inside of an eye. Pairs of glasses, contact lenses and other optometric items were also displayed. “The eye takes in information,” she told the eighth-graders. “The brain processes it.” She noted that getting hit in the back of the head by a ball for instance, can affect vision.
“(The brain) is where everything is processed,” the optometric assistant said.
She explained that the center of a contact lens is always clear, so the viewer does not see the color of the contact while wearing it. She pointed out the importance of vision checkups. Diseases such as diabetes can be detected even before a patient knows it. “We can see signs in the eyes,” Schronick said. “The eyes can tell a lot about you.”
St. Paul the Apostle student Jack McGuire performed a virtual 3-D operation on a heart. He wore a pair of 3-D glasses, took his instrument, and “dissected” the heart. Lori Walljasper with Eastern Iowa Community College, whose booth operated the computer, explained that it simulates taking out the heart, pulling it apart, putting it back together and rotating it.
“It was weird,” Jack said. “It’s crazy to have a 3-D computer object and with the move of a pen cut at something.”
Jack McIntosh of Lourdes said his favorite exhibitor was Deere & Co. global security. “They had a cool camera setup. You could see their operations in Mexico and other places around the world.”
All Saints student Katie Engels also liked the global security. But she is interested in law, so that exhibit helped her learn more about a career in law.
Classmate Anna Moritz said, the exhibitors “tell us to think about what field we may go into. When you get to talk to those people and see what they can do it makes it even better.”
Examples of some other exhibitors included veterinarian, therapist, culinary arts, midwife, vocations, judge, architect and law enforcement officer.