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Why Expo?

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October 8, 2018

A brief history behind large exhibitions, and why they work.

A Career Expo in Marietta, GA, 2011

As Alignment Rockford preps for the Academy Expo, I started to wonder why people do Expos and how they really work. Where did they get their start? Who thought that gathering a large group of people in the same room would have value? 

After doing some of my own research, I found out some interesting facts about Exhibitions and Expositions: 

What is an Expo?

For starters, the word Expo is short for Exposition – which is a large public exhibition or display of art or trade goods. According to the International Bureau of Expositions, “Expos serve to educate the public, share innovation,  promote progress and foster cooperation.”

Since The Great Exposition of 1851 London, Expos are a way to see and be seen. This expo, also known as “The World’s Fair”, originated in the French tradition with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 held in Paris. This expo was followed by other national exhibitions in Europe and eventually led Prince Albert to help create The World’s Fair. It was the first international exhibition of manufactured produces and influenced the development of several aspects of society, like art and design education, international trade and relations, and tourism. 

The Crystal Palace at the 1851 World's Fair in London

Expo Today

Skip to present day, the word “Expo” has a much broader meaning. The World’s Fair is still going strong, and continues to be the epicenter of international dialogue for progress and cooperation. The next World Expo will be in Dubai in 2020.  

There are other formats of expos that seem to be more common. Trade fairs or trade shows are smaller, localized exhibitions for companies and industries to mingle, showcase and demonstrate their products and services with partners and customers. In Rockford, there are many job fairs, trade shows, career and internship fairs, etc. And like the World’s Fair, these smaller expos seem to accomplish the same goal: to bring people together.  

The Academy Expo

The Academy Expo is a bit more specialized, however. Not only is it a gathering for industry partners, but it’s also a chance for freshman students within the Rockford Public School District to see what careers are out there. Why? Because the Rockford Public Schools have adopted an Academy School model based on a work-based learning continuum. This means that students will choose a category that they’re most interested in and would like to explore during their high school career: Business, Engineering, Health Sciences and Public Service. Within these Academies, students will pick a specific pathway like Business – Marketing or Engineering – Aerospace. 

Then those industries will make appearances throughout the regular coursework to show how to apply courses like math and writing to an actual job. 

This is what the Academy Expo does. It helps students see the industry and talk with real people from that industry so that they’ll be able to make a more informed decision on their Academy and pathway. 

While the concept of an expo might seem odd, packing a lot of people in a room with many competing industries is actually a good thing. It forces conversation and makes the connection between people that otherwise might not have connected. 

If you want to learn more about the Academy Expo or the RPS Academies click the links below! 

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