By Spc. Gregory T. Summers, 1st Signal Brigade Public Affairs OfficeMay 2, 2014
USAG YONGSAN, South Korea -- 1st Signal Brigade Soldiers supported USAG Yongsan's annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Week to help increase interest and competencies amongst Seoul American Elementary School students April 14-17.
A team effort from Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Joint Cyber, S3 Automations, 41st Signal Battalion and 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion provided a display of signal communications equipment and instructed educational courses to kindergarten through fifth grade students during the week.
The display included 304th ESB equipment tours of a Satellite Transportable Terminal (STT), a Phoenix Tactical Satellite and a Joint Network Node (JNN). There were also briefings from Automation and Cyber Soldiers about the basics of Video-Teleconferencing (VTC) and the importance of cyber safety.
Col. Paul H. Fredenburgh III, 1st Signal Brigade Commander said, "Our Soldiers came out to help motivate and educate the school's children, because it is important to help get our future generations interested in STEM areas with the future leaning more towards advanced, technological jobs."
In four days, over 1,000 eager and interested Seoul American Elementary students cycled through the Soldiers' interactive, hands-on display. First, children learned about how a Phoenix and STT pull high bandwidth voice, video and data signals from satellites in outer space.
Spc. Brandon W. Mall, a Multichannel Transmission System Operator/Maintainer, 304th ESB said he went over the basic concepts of how the Phoenix operates. "We compared it to something they are already familiar with like the telephone. We told them it's like a giant telephone line between our satellite on the ground and the one in space," said Mall.
Spc. Christopher Moore, a Satellite Communications Systems Operator/Maintainer, 304th ESB said the main thing they wanted to teach the children about the STT was the concept of signal flow. "We kept the details to a minimum so they will understand how we provide internet and phone capabilities, but I was very surprised that a majority of them got the concept. They are really smart kids," Moore said.
After learning how the signal is pulled from the sky, the students moved on to see how the signal is transferred and put to use with a demonstration of the JNN.
Pfc. Jonathan W. Horton and Spc. Joshua Grace, both Nodal Network Systems Operators/Maintainers, 304th ESB demonstrated how with the flip of a switch they relay the signal into dependable voice, video and data communications for Soldiers to use.
Staff Sgt. Darel R. Phillips, an S3 Automations Information Technology Specialist, HHC, then showed the children how his VTC works after all of the satellite signals are captured and relayed to his computers. Phillips explained that the VTC technology the Army uses is very similar to Skype; a concept that the young students understood. "Our video-teleconferences allow our Soldiers to stay connected, even from across the world," Phillips said.
Finally, after seeing how all of the Army's communications equipment works together, the students received a class on staying safe while being online from Sgt. Herbert R. McCarter, a Defense Cyber Operations Analyst, Joint Cyber Center.
"I talked to the kids about staying safe while online and helped teach what is right versus what is wrong to do when they are on the Internet from their personal computers," McCarter said. "I think it's cool we get the opportunity to do this, because cyber safety is important especially in today's world. They need to know how to keep themselves and their information safe."
Allison Fenimore, an Education Technologist and the STEM Coordinator for Seoul American Elementary School, said she was very thankful for 1st Signal Brigade supporting STEM Week for the third year in a row. "The Soldiers are amazing. We love having them here interacting with our kids and helping us teach them," Fenimore said.
April 17, Fenimore and Seoul American Elementary School presented awards to the Soldiers involved with the STEM Week display.
Dr. Catherine Yurica, Principal of Seoul American Elementary School, thanked the brigade and said, "The excitement our children had seeing your satellite communications equipment and hearing them talk to each other about it, was priceless. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come out and support us."