Students gain experience in math and science
Evan Denison, second from right, works the remote control to move his robot in the soccer game as his teammates help defend their goal against the other teams.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Evan Denison, 15, was one of 20 students who participated in the third week of the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Sciences Program, sponsored by the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

He heard about GEMS from his friends and felt that it might be a great way to learn new things and get information on future jobs with the Army.

He was one of 20 students who participated in the third week of the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Sciences Program, sponsored by the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

The GEMS students built rockets, bridges and robots; they learned a lot and had fun at the same time. For Denison, building a robot was the coolest project.

"They started the robots from scratch, were given freedom to design and brainstorm their ideas. It was really great," he said.

The GEMS program consists of hands-on, in-class exercises and tours of labs and other AMRDEC facilities.

"The hands-on exercises were better than the tours because the long tours tended to get boring," Denison said.

There was one tour, however, that did excite Denison and his fellow students; it excites everyone who visits, and that is a tour of the Software Engineering Directorate.

A tour at SED lasts a little over an hour and is very hands-on and at times it is very immersive. Students participate in simulations and learn while doing. A typical SED tour encompasses America's Army, the current holder of the Guinness World Record for the Most Downloaded War Game -- America's Army the Online Game; the Kiowa Warrior Helicopter simulator, and the Robotics Lab.

An SED tour has a certain wow factor. This was the best tour of the week, Denison said.

During the GEMS program, the students are led and mentored by local teachers who work for the GEMS program during the summer.

One of Denison's favorite teachers was Jessica Long, who led the bridge-making module.

"Ms. Long was very encouraging, had a good attitude, and was able to explain how to do something so it was understandable," Denison said.

In this module, students each build two bridges and they build one as a team. Each bridge is then tested for its weight bearing capacity. Denison's team was able to build one that held 49 pounds. Pretty amazing when you consider the bridge was made of popsicle sticks, string and hot glue.

Working as a team was better than working alone. It felt good to build such a strong bridge, Denison said.

The GEMS program is helping the students learn that mathematics and science knowledge and skills are applied even after school.

Page last updated Wed July 7th, 2010 at 00:00