Weymouth High School students visit Natick
April 4, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (April 4, 2013) -- Robotics and Culinary Arts students from Weymouth (Mass.) High School visited the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center on March 25. The group of 20 toured and learned about different aspects of Soldier life and the science that makes up their equipment.
"Visiting places like this gives the students tangible insight as they are preparing for careers," said Weymouth teacher Dan Eggers. "Their learning at school can be really abstract, so it's great to be able to show them how they can apply their knowledge. As a teacher, I really love being able to take the kids out on trips like this."
Students visited the Doriot Climatic Chambers, experiencing a sustained wind at 30 mph in the 60-degrees-Fahrenheit room. The chambers are able to simulate different temperatures and environments, and after the students' firsthand experience with the wind and cooler temperatures, several left the chamber enthusiastically saying how "cool" it was.
A few students later tried on body armor, because part of the visit included learning about the different types of personal protective equipment each Soldier has.
"(The vest) was definitely very heavy, and I was told that it was a bit big on me," said Katie Lovett, a junior at Weymouth who is part of the Robotics program and tried on a vest that weighed about 25 pounds. "I thought it was cool hearing about the female Soldiers in the Army and how they're modifying (body armor) specifically for females, especially since females are now allowed on the front lines."
In the parachute shop, students learned about parachutes and airdrop over the hum of sewing machines.
"It was really cool seeing the parachutes, all the different types, and how they're innovative and they keep modifying designs and coming up with different things," Lovett said. "That has a lot to do with what we do with robotics. Our robot had to go through a lot of trial-and-error periods, so I thought it was cool to see how in the real world, including the military, they also deal with trial and error."
At the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate, the large group split up into smaller groups based on their study focus. The Robotics group learned a bit more about robotics work and polymers, while the Culinary Arts students tasted and learned about tube food.
"The food is good and you can critique it, but I feel like when you are in the field and you try it, it kind of hits home, almost," said Kim Botana, another junior who is studying Culinary Arts. "The tortilla soup was so good!"
Students spent only a few hours at Natick, but during that time they were able to see a lot of behind-the-scenes science that not everyone can. Because many students' studies are focused in engineering and food, the group of high school upperclassmen may have caught a glimpse of their futures at the labs.