Well, blow me down!
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Newton's Nightmare
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
High-tech vehicles
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

HOHENFELS, Germany --Hohenfels Middle/High School opened its doors to the community recently to promote the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the 21st Century.

"Tonight's event helps motivate our students to do projects and work on the different aspects of STEM," said Cristina Echevarria, HMHS principal. "Students get together in teams and produce projects to display for the community and share what they've learned."

HMHS students and teachers presented a variety of exhibits such as the Star Lab manned by the Chemistry class and creating computer music with Julian Byles and Brian Butler. The physics class constructed a towering 8 foot tall roller coaster known as "Newton's Nightmare" which featured three loops, one spiral, and completed 42 unaided circuits, a new record for this project.

Even the Hohenfels Elementary School students got in on the action.

Fifth graders Luis Armasmondragon and Colin Crowne created models to explore the question of green energy. With a blow dryer to simulate wind, the students used tiny turbines mounted on model buildings to light up bulbs within the structures, verbally explaining the procedure as they went.

"So homes can produce their own energy from wind and protect the environment," Armasmondragon concluded.

Kylie Ann Barker and Sarah Malinda, also fifth graders, decided to test the power of color on people's perceptions. Creating cupcakes from the exact same recipe, the girls used food coloring to dye them three different colors. Using 69 test subjects, the girls found that 65 percent of people believed the red cupcakes were strawberry flavored and the yellow were banana flavored, even though all three were vanilla.

"I thought it would be really interesting to see how some people's thoughts about color influenced their taste," Barker said.

"It actually worked on me," she laughed. "I was the first person to try them!"

Besides the students, 12 different units made presentations as well. The Health Clinic had a display discussing how the heart works. The Integrated Training Area Management showed how light signals can be used to create maps and detailed 3D terrain models. Raytheon demonstrated their forward looking infra-red camera and showed how a green screen can be used to create various backgrounds for photos and television.

"We come out every year," said Pete Kamphaus, Raytheon live training technician. "We enjoy showing the kids what tech is out there, and what they're parents are working on."

Community Bank was on hand with fun math games and puzzles. They also prompted children to start thinking about the "science of saving" by helping them set a goal and create a savings plan.

"It's amazing what the children came up with when they knew what they wanted to save for," said Ruth Keaton, banking center manager.

One of the main objectives behind STEM night is to make learning fun, and the crowds of smiling and excited children certainly proved that this goal was accomplished.

"STEM night is important because it shows students of all ages how science, technology, engineering and math work in their everyday lives. Students had an opportunity to see some 21st century technology that is used in their parents' jobs and will also be a part of their future job training. Plus it was fun, with many hands-on opportunities for our students to interact with this new technology," said Joyce Dusenberry, HMHS science teacher.

"It's a great opportunity to combine learning with a social event and it exposes our children to things that they may not otherwise get to experience," said Jeanette Fry, fifth grade teacher at HES. "I have over 40 students taking part, and it's building self-confidence in them, and fostering a feeling of 'I am smart; I can do this.'"