By Ms. Audra Calloway (AMC)June 24, 2008
Picatinny Arsenal joined area law enforcement agencies and emergency service representatives to participate in a Uniformed Heroes Day at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., June 14.
Liberty Science Center hosted the Uniformed Heroes Day to showcase the science behind these different jobs, offer parents the opportunity to guide their children through the different displays of heroism and help explain everything that goes into being a uniformed hero, said Dina Schipper Liberty Science Center director of media relations.
"Children grow up idolizing our uniformed heroes and with Uniformed Heroes Day, children were able to see firsthand how our uniformed heroes work everyday and all the cool and exciting things that their jobs entail," Schipper said.
To represent how Picatinny technology helps uniformed service members, engineers brought products such as the Talon and PackBot robots, Talon training simulators, America's Army video games and a seven-ton Marine Corps cargo truck towing a M198 155 mm howitzer.
Picatinny employee Doug Wong also brought interactive science experiments he performed with the kids.
"We wanted to show the science and technology behind (the experiments) and relate it to the way we use science," he said.
Wong said the kids' favorite experiment was the soda blast effects experiment, where children drop breath mints into bottles of soda to watch the liquid bubble over the top.
Wong showed how simply dropping a breath mint into an open bottle of soda can explain the concept of the explosive effects of ammunition.
"The geyser you get from carbonated soda and a chalky breath mint is a kid-friendly demo that relates to the gas created from the right mix of primers, propellants and pressure, (which) can launch projectiles with explosive results," he said.
Wong said that while the experiments looked like magic to the younger kids, the older children were able to begin the grasp the concepts behind it. And since the experiments were done with normal household items, he said the children often cannot wait to get home to try the experiments again.
While many children participated in the experiments, it was the Talon and PackBot robots that stole the show.
The Foster-Miller Talon and iRobot PackBot are both tracked robots that are used to disarm improvised explosive devices. Because they are remotely operated and equipped with cameras, they allow Soldiers to safely detonate suspicious objects from a distance.
The robots can also be used for search-and-recovery missions.
While these robots are commercial-off-the-shelf items, Picatinny works on improvements and additional sensors for these robots.
As of May, Foster-Miller has delivered around 2,000 Talon robots to the U.S. military and iRobot has delivered more than 1,500 PackBots.
Benjamin, 4, was so impressed by the two robots that he declared he was going to be a robot when he grows up.
"They're not scary, they're nice," John, 4, explained about the robots. "They have to be nice to humans."
Jason, 9, was at the Liberty Science Center to celebrate his birthday. He said his favorite part of the day was using the Talon trainer, or "driving the black robot" as he described it.
The Talon trainer, developed at Picatinny by the America's Army Government Applications Team and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Directorate, is a virtual trainer that allows service members to "train" how to use a Talon robot.
He compared the Talon trainer to a video game. "And I love video games," he said.
Jason also said he might be a scientist one day - "And I hope I drive one of those" he said, pointing to the Talon.