Cogswheels & Gear Trains: Career Education Activities for Middle School

A cogwheel is a rotating machine part having teeth, or cogs, which mesh with another toothed part to transmit torque. Two or more gears working in a sequence (train) are called a gear train or, in many cases, a transmission. Gear arrangements as described, can produce a mechanical advantage through a gear ratio and thus may be considered a simple machine.

I know what you are thinking,

What does all this have to do with career education?

Career Education for Middle School @EvaVarga.netAs parents of students in middle school, one of our roles is to help our kids understand how their current educational and personal choices will affect their future life roles. In particular, their choices for a career.

In many ways, you can think of the variety of careers as a cogwheel. Each cogwheel is a career option and the individual teeth or cogs are the skill sets required for success in that given field.

Over the years, we have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to explore career options as a family. We’ve reached out to our friends and family members – encouraging the kids to ask questions to learn more about their chosen fields of work.

We talk regularly about their dad’s role as a hospital administrator and their uncles’ careers as a pharmacist and microbiologist. Coincidentally, though their career choices differ (the cogwheel), they all work in health care (the gear train).

Each cogwheel works closely with one another in a larger system – the gear train. Together, the system has an advantage.

Youth are more likely to think about their future careers, and believe that they have a variety of career options, when they have families that help them learn about career choices and support their efforts to prepare for a career. Given an opportunity to evaluate career information and compare and contrast a variety of careers is also important.

Exploring the many varied career options when students are in middle school will help assure they have a greater grasp of what skills they will need as an adult.

One of our newest additions to our library is Careers: The Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You. We have had a great time investigating the careers the kids are interested in with this resource guide.

{Many thanks to DK Publishing for providing the book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

More than 400 career options are described in this book, color coded and divided into fifteen categories (or gear trains): health and medicine; arts, crafts, & design; and science & research are just a few.

Each job has a career path journey graphically laid out with important aspects including what actions one would have to take to be successful in this career as far as personality, interests, type and quality of education and the life/work balance you’d like to achieve among other criteria.

Career Education for Middle School @EvaVarga.netThe Role of Parents of Middle School Students

You can encourage middle school children to plan for a career in several ways:

  • Talk to your children about your own work, and/or the jobs of friends and relatives, so they will learn about several work alternatives.
  • Ask your children what they like to do and help them look for ways that their interests can be reflected in a career choice.
  • Help your children get information about middle and high school courses they can take to better prepare them for college or a post-secondary training program.
  • Plan a “career day” for your homeschool co-op and invite guest speakers (or parents).
  • Take a trip to local employer and employment agencies.

Exploring Options

I have written a few posts describing how we’ve used the interests of our children as a guide to explore career options. I will be adding more in the future.
Hydrology
Entomology
Private Pilot

What interests and passions do your children have? What careers are they likely to pursue as a result? Take time to sit down with your kids and begin exploring the many career options available to them today.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥