Project G.R.I.L.L.: Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading
A program of Envision Greater Fond du Lac, Project G.R.I.L.L. is a project based learning experience for high school students that strives to develop a strong future workforce by positively highlighting careers within manufacturing. The G.R.I.L.L. portion of the title stands for Growing Readiness in Learning and Leading. While the program was developed in Sheboygan County, Envision Greater Fond du Lac has provided the program to area school districts since 2008.
Project G.R.I.L.L. teaches students all the steps of taking an idea from concept through production with the end result being a fully functional grill. The design process and fabrication of these complex grills takes an entire school year during which each student group is mentored by both their technical educational teacher and a manufacturing partner.
In addition to the fabrication of grills, the students participate in the program’s Parade of Manufacturers throughout November and December. The Parade spans over three days during which every participating high school team tours the eight participating manufacturing businesses along with the Fond du Lac campus of Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC). Students learn first-hand about the breadth and scope of each business’ work as well as the wide variety of careers and post-secondary education available within the world of manufacturing.
Additionally, throughout the program the manufacturing representatives along with the MPTC representatives will attend the school tours. These tours allow the students to present on the progress of their grills, ask for advice and showcase what they have accomplished thus far. It is also a great opportunity for the manufacturing representatives to ask the students questions about their process while providing additional coaching. When asked about the impact that this program has on student’s career choices after high school, the Technology Education and Engineering Instructor from North Fond du Lac High School stated, “I have been a Technology Education teacher for the past 34 years and have had the opportunity to be a part of Project G.R.I.L.L. for six of those years: five years with Oakfield High School and now one year with North Fond du Lac. During those six years, I have seen so many of my students positively impacted by this experience. By my estimates, I have had no less than 100 students involved in “G.R.I.L.L.” over those six years and more than 75% have either chosen a career related to the program or have gone to work for one of the partner manufacturers we were paired with. The opportunity to work hand in hand with real world manufacturers and the chance to tour each of their facilities is about as good as it gets for helping students choose a career pathway. The pride that my students take in their accomplishment at the unveiling is one of the best experiences an educator can experience. Project G.R.I.L.L. has been and will continue to be one of the most valuable experiences my students have had the opportunity to be a part of.”
The program will culminate in May in the parking lot of Festival Foods in Fond du Lac for the annual Unveiling Event. During this event students will display their fully functional grills with the opportunity for their team to win the Best in Show and/or Community Choice Awards. The program also offers two academic scholarships each year with the winners announced during the event.