Sometimes work can be fun and games. At least it was for some children who learned a bit about their parents’ jobs at Cummins Inc., the largest employer in Bartholomew County and known best for making diesel engines.

About 350 children of Cummins employees who work in downtown Columbus offices participated Friday in the annual Take Your Kid to Work Day, which involved four activities split between The Commons and YES Cinema in the morning, truck displays between Third and Fourth streets at noon and optional job shadowing with parents in the afternoon.

The children, ages 7 and older, assembled engines with LEGO kits, built a castle with canned food, brainstormed how to sell more popcorn — while munching on bags of the treat at YES Cinema — and made a resume. They rotated to each activity to try something new.

Catina Furnish, one of the event’s organizers and a corporate responsibility manager, said Take Your Kid to Work Day has been in existence at least 18 years and is quite popular.

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“It allows kids to learn what their parents do and inform them about different types of technical careers. A lot of kids get excited about it,” Furnish said.

That excitement was apparent as Neel Deshpande, 12, talked about his experience while looking at two Ram trucks and a Titan XD — all with Cummins turbo diesel engines — outside YES Cinema.

“I liked learning about the engines and working with the LEGO engine. I think seeing how the pistons work and the gears and building it was fun,” said Neel, who will be an eighth-grader at Northside Middle School.

He looked at the trucks with friends Amol Korde, an information technology employee at Cummins, and Korde’s children Ayushi, 10, and Arya, 8.

Ayushi, who will be a fifth-grader at Southside Elementary, also said she liked making an engine with LEGOs.

Building a LEGO engine was a new offering this year, Furnish said, and chosen because it is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activity.

“One of the benefits here is kids learn to follow instructions and read, and they have something to show for it at the end,” said Cummins engineer and LEGO station volunteer Brian Hartley, whose 10-year-old son Grant participated in the annual event.

“It’s similar to building an engine in a plant. You have a part number and a sequence,” he said.

As Kaitlyn Kasidas, 10, who will be a fifth-grader at Southside Elementary, stepped back and looked at the canned food castle she helped construct, she thought about its appearance.

“It looks like a giant rainbow castle,” she said.

Cans of different sizes and with different colored labels were used to make a castle that was two cans deep and with walls three cans high in most places, and turrets five cans tall.

The canned food castle was intended to teach children how to follow directions and also think creatively, said D’Ila Gabbard, a volunteer overseeing the activity.

Furnish said the canned food castle also provided a corporate responsibility lesson because the cans will be donated to the Community Center of Hope’s food pantry.

Kaitlyn Kasidas said she and the other children learned how to work together

She added that she was excited to shadow her mother, human resources employee Emma White, in the afternoon during her first time participating in Take Your Kid to Work Day.

“I’ve been in the office but never worked with her,” Kaitlyn said.

While half the children worked on the LEGO engines and canned food castle at The Commons, the other half worked on problem solving and resume writing at YES Cinema.

The problem-solving activity was difficult because of the many matters to solve, said Amelia Maddox, 11, who will be a sixth-grader at Parkside Elementary. The children were asked to list problems that would cause people to not buy popcorn, and then come up with solutions to get people to buy more.

Jonnah Baker, a systems engineer who led the popcorn activity, told the kids that much of what Cummins employees do involves problem solving.

Some of the problems Amelia’s group listed were popcorn tasting too bland, too many unpopped kernels and the popcorn buckets not being colorful enough. Solutions included providing different flavors of popcorn, selling only popped kernels and having more colorful buckets.

Ameila said she enjoyed the resume activity. The résumé the children completed asked for:

Their names

Career interests

Student competitions

Volunteering

Abilities and skills

Achievements and awards

References

“The résumé was fun because you were exploring yourself all over again and thinking about what you’ve done in the past and what skills you have. I’m learning that I’ve done a lot more than I think I did,” Amelia said.

Andy Marino, who works in finance at the Corporate Office Building, said he was glad his 10-year-old son Tony got to participate for the first time.

“I just wanted him to get out of the house, interact with other kids and learn more about what Cummins does,” Marino said.

Pull Quote

“I think I liked learning about the engines and working with the LEGO engine. I think seeing how the pistons work and the gears and building it was fun.”

— Neel Deshpande, 12, eighth-grader at Northside Middle School

About the event

Cummins Inc.’s annual Take Your Kid to Work Day event took place Friday at The Commons and YES Cinema and included about 350 children.

Participants received a T-shirt, water bottle, drawstring bag, foam truck and a bag of popcorn.

Activities included:

  • Building an engine with LEGOs
  • Building a castle with cans of food
  • Writing a resume
  • Brainstorming why people might not buy popcorn and how to sell more popcorn
Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.