The SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) tweaked its Manufacturing is Cool website with Social Media to better connect with its K-12 audiences. Kids are giving it high-fives.
DEARBORN, Mich., (February 15, 2013) The value and energy of Social Media, online education, flipped classrooms and how education is delivered, processed and retained can be seen with a visit to www.ManufacturingisCool.com  - an award-winning, interactive website funded by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF), and its partners and sponsors. Website design was provided by The Secret Room, Orlando, Fla.
The explosion of technology and advanced manufacturing processes are evolving faster than it can be learned and applied, says Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. We designed the Manufacturing is Cool website to inspire, prepare and support young people for careers in advanced manufacturing without patronizing them. Were giving them access to real-world - people, jobs and technologies, all critical to them finding their place in a global economy.
The site engages students in basic engineering and science principles and provides interesting and useful educational resources for parents and teachers. Todays tech-savvy K-12 audience can explore the exciting world of advanced manufacturing engineering 24/7 to learn about the careers it offers, and how its advanced technologies affects their daily lives.
Visit the website and up pops a note challenging you to Be an Original Thinker! Its opening page features a not-so-typical student desktop. The books open, the miniature car roars, the cell phone rings, iPod flashes and those chips spilled on the desk, crunch. Each object has a life of its own. When kids move their cursor from one object to the next each one of them opens up and takes them along on a trip to the many different and exciting worlds of advanced manufacturing.
Kids are easily drawn into the site. Books move off the shelf and pages flip allowing them to learn and explore. The book, Awesome Associates, say kids, is cool. With a click, they meet inspiring engineers and inventors. And when they check out the Road to Riches book, theyre provided with access to www.CareerMe.org  for stories about young people in advanced manufacturing positions, and learn how they got there.
Not sure what they want to do after they graduate high school? Well, its easy as 1-2-3 for kids to set the course to becoming an advanced manufacturing engineer with a great future. The iPod chimes with a message offering them access to YouTube videos, profiles on engineers and researchers, and a button connects them to the Foundations Facebook , Twitter,  YouTube  and LinkedIn  pages.
According to Common Sense Media,  Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives. July 26, 2012, Almost all teenagers in America today have used social media. For kids 13-17, its nine out of 10, or 90% who have used some form of social media.
Ok, sounds awesome, kids say, but how do I pay for all of this? Another click directs them to the SME Education Foundation to learn about its scholarships  and financial aid. Since 1980, the Foundation has given out more than $33 million in cash grants, scholarships and awards. Thats more money than any other professional society has donated to kids for their education. If they, their parents or student advisors want to find out more about colleges and scholarships, checking out other books on the desktop is a click away.
Web-enhanced courses being introduced in K-12 schools are gaining ground. More prevalent are approaches such as the flipped classroom, in which students watch a video explaining a particular lesson or topic at home and then come to school prepared to complete assignments related to that lesson or discuss the topic in class.
Manufacturing is Cool offers easy access to instructional videos. A click on that Super H²O red water bottle and it lights up with Snacking Solutions, offering a series of videos based on advanced manufacturing technologies to help students enhance classroom learning. Colorful folders open up to show kids how manufacturing engineers create the perfect processes for pizza, how cookies are baked and packed with military precision; pretzels in an amazing array of shapes and sizes, Pringles potato chips, all alike and unbroken; yogurt with fresh fruit, and of course, chocolate. A visit to the Hershey manufacturing facility in Hershey, Pa., answers questions about how those little white tabs are inserted at the top of the foil-wrapped, chocolate kisses.
That miniature Mustang sitting on the left side of the desk has an engine that roars. Click on any one of the little moving mechanics and kids are taken to the real thing. They can test everything from trains to planes, to cars, to motorcycles, to tractors and more. The tough looking rat with a red muscle T-shirt introduces kids to the Shop Rat Foundation to learn how they can advance in the skilled trades industry by working on unique and innovative projects such as the Wheelie Car, from concept to completion.
The iPod includes a button with access to videos on renewable energy, medical manufacturing; the manufacture of consumer goods; a pilot project involving the installation of a water turbine in New Yorks east river, and others on robotics and wind turbines. Videos also feature personal stories of people like Anne Carpenter who grew up on a farm and became a research scientist, Duy-Loan Le, an immigrant, and her love of technology, and Joan Higginbotham, a space shuttle astronaut.
See that remote on the lower right side of the desk? Its incoming message greets kids with Hey Amigos! Check out all the great gadgets here in the entertainment room. But if you want to see something really cool, click on any of these Distracting Diversions and you will be vamoosed behind the scenes where you can get the 411 on everything from MP3 players to DVDs, CDs, book publishing, video games and even theme park attractions.
ManufacturingisCool.com - Industry Partners and Sponsors:
AEP American Electric Power, AutoDesk; Caterpillar Foundation; Ford Motor Company Fund; Goodrich Turbine Component Services; Honda; National Center for Manufacturing Education (NCME); Northrop Grumman; Project Lead The Way (PLTW); Shop Rat Foundation; Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF).
About the SME Education Foundation:
The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $33 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors.