Picatinny educational outreach extends to nearly 200 New Jersey schools
May 22, 2014
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PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Three area schools will visit Picatinny Arsenal this week each on separate days as part of an outreach agreement with the installation's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program.
Yesterday, 18 students from Frankford Middle School spoke with and learned hands-on from scientists and engineers who work at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center. Warren Hills High School will visit todayand then Morristown High School will wrap up on Friday.
Several weeks ago, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen visited Morristown High School along with Picatinny's STEM coordinators and spoke with the students about the work that is done within ARDEC and other organizations at Picatinny.
During the visit, students were divided into groups and spent 20 minutes each at six different demonstration areas in the Lindner Conference Center.
"If you are not thinking in that first minute to one-and-a-half minutes about how you can improve these products then you are probably not destined to be working in science and technology," Ed Petersen, STEM Program Manager, told the students. "We want you to constantly be thinking," he added.
Mechanical Engineer Celena Guest told the students how she helped design armor tiles that protect Soldiers in vehicles from shape charges and explosively formed penetrators.
"We designed these tiles to take out whatever rounds are coming in before it takes out our systems and injures our people," Guest said.
Sixth grader Bryson Feichtel, 12, was able to pick up an AT-4 84-mm unguided, portable, single-shot recoilless smoothbore rifle, or anti-tank weapon, and experience through simulation what it might be like for a Soldier to fire a weapon in combat.
"It was a little difficult to load it but once you got over that it was easy to fire, or pull the trigger," Feichtel said.
Ahmed Hassan, a mechanical engineer, told students: "My job is try to create weapons or ammo that can defeat those armor tiles you learned about earlier. We play a cat-and-mouse game. It improves both our systems."
His words motivated students to start spurting out ideas for different types of ammunition that might be small enough to maneuver on the battlefield but have enough stopping power to take out the tiles.
They also used controls to maneuver the Talon and PackBot robots used for bomb disposal, surveillance and reconnaissance. Petersen said the entire Picatinny workforce--not just the research center has made the STEM program what it is today. "Picatinny has been absolutely phenomenal and we are thankful for your support," Petersen said.
The STEM coordinators work with the school to plan their STEM curriculum and recommend activities on which students can focus. They help schools develop their own programs and provide an engineer to visit classrooms and provide support.
Maria Gonzalez, training coordinator with STEM, said: "If you impact one kid, one student, they impact another, and another, and so on."
Currently, the STEM Program at Picatinny has supported close to 200 schools in New Jersey, in the process providing support to more than a quarter-million students since 2008.
"Schools tell us what they need, the support they need to get the program done, and we try to support it," Petersen said. No schools are the same, and none get it all. Each is unique, which makes this program so great."