FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. - Fort Monmouth's Gibbs Hall buzzed with excitement as the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center hosted its 14th Annual Outreach Closing ceremony, marking the end of summer 2008.

More than 100 kids from the center's 2008 Math and Science Camps and Army Educational Outreach Program's Science and Engineering Apprentice Program, or SEAP, gathered with family and friends for the closing ceremony recognizing the students' excellence in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as STEM.

Gary Blohm, CERDEC director, hosted the event to recognize the importance of partnering with the educational community to spur kids on toward STEM careers.

"This integrated community outreach network is making the most of its resources to help kids to better understand and appreciate math and science, and I am particularly proud of our scientists, engineers and dedicated CERDEC personnel who invest their time and energy," said Blohm. He says that encouraging students to pursue math and science career adds a unique element to the program.

Majiyah Blackwell, a fourth-grade student participant in the electrical circuits program at the camp, says participating in the camp is a way to prepare for the upcoming school year.

"I chose to participate in this camp because the camp helps me out in science in the school year," Blackwell said.

The Math and Science Camp students, grades three through 10, spent this summer learning about electrical circuits, flight and rocketry, forensics and robotics while the high school and college-aged SEAP students worked in Army labs with CERDEC engineers and scientists.

Prior to the ceremony, the invitees and their families toured exhibits showcasing the students' summer educational work and providing information about CERDEC labs and outreach programs.

After brunch, guests welcomed the event's guest speaker, Bob George, instructor for the Center for the Advancement of STEM education. George stressed the importance of promoting technology in the classroom in order to connect with today's youth. He emphasized the need to engage the students where they are, using their media, and discussed design and inquiry-based learning - an approach that taps the natural curiosity of students and places them at the center of their learning, he said.

Attendees were also treated to a visit from Sprockit, a walking, talking robot that fascinated the children who flocked around it in amazement.

To conclude the ceremony, the summer camp participants and SEAP students were presented with certificates of appreciation from Blohm.

"I get excited about events like this; it's my chance to talk with the young people and hear their ideas. I am always impressed by the student involvement in math, science and engineering," Blohm said. "Programs that emphasize their participation not only give the future a more positive outlook but also encourage a scientific approach to problem solving."