Across the country, a handful of companies, nonprofit groups, public educational agencies and even science museums are trying to make manufacturing seem, well, fun. Focusing mainly on children aged 10 to 17, organizations including the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, Pa.; and Stihl, a maker of chain saws and other outdoor power equipment in Virginia Beach, Va., run camps that let students operate basic machinery, meet workers and make things.

One thing I take away from this is the depth of experience there is out there in running these problems, as well as the enthusiasm for supporting (with money) the programs. But down there at the foundations of the effort are passion (of the team of individuals who organize the programs) and a respect for STEM learning.

“Not letting your children learn the hands-on component of the theory of science is killing us as a nation,” Ms. Sharris said. “You have to stop giving kids books and start giving them tools.”

I’m not suggesting that STEM should get higher billing in these programs. I suggest quite the opposite, that STEM programs should give these types of programs greater respect and higher billing. Hell, we should start stealing some of their best bractices to appropriate in the ways we teach young people and college students.

Note: After more thought, it seems to me that this article, ``At This Girls’ Camp, Crafts Take a Drill Press’’, describes programs that superficially prepare young women for careers in manufacturing. But it’s more about preparing girls to be makers, and opening doors to future careers that would otherwise go unnoticed.