The following segment originally aired on WCAX January 25, 2018

ESSEX, N.Y. (WCAX) Over the last several years, schools have been trying to show the importance of STEM– science, technology, engineering and math– to students.

Now, College for Every Student, a nonprofit in Essex, New York, is pairing up with West Point to work with students interested in STEM careers.

“I always thought it would be fun to become a mechanic or a welder,” said Corey Valentin, an eighth-grader at Westport Central School.

“I’ve always been interested in engineering, math,” said Tristan Carey, a 10th-grader at Crown Point Central School.

It’s never too early to start thinking about the future and these North Country students are no exception.

“Dealing with middle school students at this time is paramount. Research has shown that this is the time to where their interest in STEM either wanes or waxes,” said Samuel Ivy of the West Point Military Academy.

Eleven different schools participated in two days of STEM-based learning with cadets from West Point. The cadets travel to rural areas nationwide

“Which include communities that are rural and might not have the access to a lot of opportunities that other communities might have,” Ivy said.

Showing the kids the future is bright in a hands-on way.

“If they don’t have a visual, it’s hard to figure it out,” Valentin said.

The mission? Making everyday distance detectors.

“They’re familiar with the distance detector when you walk into a supermarket or if you’re driving in a car and you hear this loud beep when you get too close to a pole,” Ivy said.

The goal? See the lights change as an object gets closer to the sensor.

Working in teams, they learn the ways of an electrical engineer and have some fun while they do it.

“You’re hanging out with a bunch of your friends, and you’re learning about how to program and the way they are making it is really, really fun,” Valentin said.