Lemuel Patterson, STEM instructor, gives students instructions on how to build a model car during C.C. Pinckney Elementary School's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics event Tuesday.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Department of Defense Education Activity, in collaboration with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, launched a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative in DoDEA schools worldwide. The STEM initiative is a partnership between DoDEA students and educators, and Federal STEM professionals.

"This partnership is focused on real life, problem-based learning opportunities for students to use today's tools to solve tomorrow's problems -- crossing disciplines and having global implications," said DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald.

"The events will usher in a new era of collaboration, cooperation, and communication between DoDEA schools and STEM professionals in our government and in industry," Fitzgerald said, "which complements DoDEA's focus on 21st century teaching and learning.

"Not only will the events expose students to the practical application of STEM disciplines, they will also serve as the catalyst for our students to prepare for the higher levels of math, science, engineering, and computer programming coursework necessary for college, career and life readiness," Fitzgerald said.

C.C. Pinckney Elementary School's STEM event took place Tuesday and included a presentation on fuel cell technology, a science fair, work sessions on solar energy and information about green technology.

"It makes me feel good to see the children involved, they have ownership. They are able to interact with the (science fair) judges and explain the whole process of the scientific method," said Patricia Walters, a fifth grade teacher at the school.

During the events, students focus on disciplines such as green technology engineering, robotics, biotechnology, geophysics, nuclear engineering and environmental engineering. These lessons and activities are recorded and broadcast to DoDEA students and teachers. The lesson plans developed and used for these STEM events will be collected and stored in a database that can be accessed by DoDEA teachers.

"The level of competence we have attracted to support our students and teachers is phenomenal -- national and international award winners, Ph.D.s, career veterans of large programs, high ranking officials from all over the U.S. and Pacific," said Dr. Mark Bignell, Chief, Arts, Information & Careers branch, who has oversight for the DoDEA STEM initiative. "We expect great things from this collaboration.

Editor's note: Andrew McIntyre contributed to this report.

Page last updated Thu April 19th, 2012 at 12:15