Earth Day draws youth from local schools
May 5, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the APG North (Aberdeen) youth center hosted the annual Earth Day celebration for elementary school students April 25.
More than 500 students from Harford County public and private schools attended the event, participating in hands on-conservation and environment-focused activities hosted by on and off-post organizations.
"It's all about touch and hands-on learning," said Norma Warwick, facilities director of the youth center. "It's not just about seeing things. Seeing is great, but it's experiencing them that allows you to learn."
ARL and the youth center have had a partnership through the U.S. Army Education Outreach Program (AEOP) and the National Defense Education Program (NDEP). Because the NDEP provides funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach with students, APG STEM colleagues also participated in Friday's event.
"An important part of our effort is to perform STEM outreach to our military community and APG," said Lisa Marvel, ARL engineer and Earth Day event coordinator. "A perfect way to do this is through child, youth and school services (CYSS). As a parent, an Army engineer and proponent of STEM education, I understand the importance of scientific curiosity and critical thinking. STEM outreach events, such as Earth Day, can increase our children's exposure to fun and interesting things and can help pique their curiosity and encourage critical thinking."
"It's a fantastic opportunity to work students in hands-on activities related to real-life environmental topics and influence their critical thinking and creativity development in a short period of time," added APG STEM Outreach program leader and primary Earth Day coordinator Dr. Sandy Young.
Children had the chance to participate in various activities, including building their own solar-powered fan circuits, learning about photosynthesis through planting and participating in games that taught about recycling and conservation.
North Harford Elementary School third grader Flynn Selby, 9, said he learned a lot from the Earth Day event.
"I've been finding out ways to use natural things and resources and not pollute," he said.
When asked if he was having a good time, Selby grinned widely and replied, "Oh yeah, I love science stuff."
Earth Day is just one of the many events ARL and the CYSS organize together. They also host various programs during the summer months and for national chemistry and engineering weeks.
"This fosters engaged, hands-on learning," Warwick said. "The kids are asking questions; they want to know what's going on...It really is a great educational opportunity."
Organizations present at the event included ARL, the U.S. Army Public Health Command, Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC), Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), the APG Fire Department, other Garrison organizations, Corvias Military Housing, Maryland master gardeners, Scales and Tales, Mason-Dixon Rescue Dogs, Harford County Public Library, Senior Scientist Society and the Maryland section of the American Chemical Society.