Army mentors Aberdeen Middle School students
August 19, 2010
- U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity promotes science, mathematics careers
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- For more than 10 years, the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity has partnered with the Aberdeen Middle School to mentor the "young minds of tomorrow."
The mission of the mentoring program is to encourage students to pursue college preparatory mathematics and science classes in high school and to provide them with better opportunities to plan for careers in mathematics, science and engineering.
By making visits hands-on, collaborative, and fun, students are given the opportunity to explore topics outside the standard curriculum. The program consists of monthly sessions with approximately 40 6th -8th grade students, combining mentor-planned in-school activities and field trips that are meant to encourage the students' curiosity and skills in different areas of mathematics and science.
Guidance counselor Beth Oleszczuk serves as AMS coordinator. AMSAA mentors include Maggie Shepler, Rashmi Ankam, Kait Hatton, Matt Rhoads, Nate Herbert, Shawn Brady, Brian Hairfield, Jeff Geroso, and David Morse. Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center mentor Azra Malik also assisted during the 2009-2010 school year.
The recent school year was most unique in its collaborative efforts with Army agencies, as well as the tried and true activities of years past. The year started off with an introductory session in September, where the mentors and students got to know to each other, students provided suggestions and areas of interest for activities and field trips, and mentors designed a bingo game in which the students had to match science terms with their definitions.
In October, the program took a field trip to the Maryland Science Center where students experienced the core exhibits as well as the "Claws" enrichment activity. Students learned about the life cycle of the crab and were able to handle a live crab. Male students faced off against female students in November during a friendly game of science jeopardy. In December, the students were able to travel to Johns Hopkins to hear a lecture given by world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Students showed off their engineering abilities in January when they were tasked to build a free-standing structure of index cards to hold as much weight as possible. Groups were surprised to find that a well-built structure could hold more than one hundred pounds.
February brought Dr. Ken Collins from ECBC, who gave a science lecture and entertained the students with experiments and was the first of two Aberdeen Proving Ground -focused sessions. Students had an incredible experience at the Aberdeen Test Center in March where program participants were given a tour of Munson Test Area, the Roadway Simulator, and witnessed the live firing of an Abrams tank.
In April, the students applied physics concepts by participating in an egg drop; most groups were able to formulate a design to catch their egg from heights above three feet. AMSAA attended the AMS Career Fair in May, which was open to all AMS students, and informed kids on the job opportunities available if they were interested in getting a college degree in mathematics or engineering.
June rounded out the school year; students traveled around the world to solve math problems, earning points for their team.
The mentors have received positive feedback from the students as well as the AMS coordinator. The excitement that spreads from the monthly sessions often prompts other students to inquire about joining the program. The mentors gained a sense of responsibility as they witnessed the influence that they have on the lives of the students involved. The Mentors demonstrate that pursuing a career in mathematics, science, or engineering, will allow the students to change the world and make a better future for themselves and others.
Planning has already begun for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. Some of the exciting new activities on deck include fieldtrips to local state universities, a visit to the Science and Math Academy located at Aberdeen High School, a visit from the Maryland ZOOmobile, a forensics demonstration, and continued in-school sessions to conduct science experiments and engineering activities.
AMSAA conducts responsive and effective materiel and logistics systems analyses to support decision making for equipping and sustaining the U.S. Army. The agency is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
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