By Kristen Kushiyama, CERDEC Public AffairsAugust 27, 2014
EDGEWOOD, Md. (Aug. 27, 2014) -- More than 200 rising fourth through 10th graders and their families gathered at an Army-hosted math and science summer camp closing ceremony at Richlin Ballroom Aug. 19.
The U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center closed its 20th season of summer programming for students.
"The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center has a long and distinguished history of supporting educational outreach. While STEM programs are plentiful in the current environment, in 1994, CERDEC was at the vanguard of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outreach movement," said Erica Bertoli, CERDEC Outreach Program coordinator.
"The leadership at CERDEC across two decades has been dedicated to the idea that the only way to ensure the continued excellence of American innovation is to foster and grow the next generation of STEM leaders."
The CERDEC summer camp was broken into four week-long sessions based on students' grade levels. Each week focused on a different topic related to STEM, and students learned about those topic areas and performed STEM-based activities and experiments to help solidify their learning experience.
Rising fourth and fifth grade students spent the week learning about flight, rocketry and satellites, while rising sixth and seventh graders programmed LEGO Mindstorms robots to solve renewable-energy challenges.
Rising eighth and ninth grade campers looked at science and engineering in the movies and addressed various cinematic feats to determine if they could happen in real life.
The final week of Summer Camp was a new addition to program and introduced rising 10th graders to aspects of leadership and how to apply critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation to their future careers in STEM or any other field.
Four rising-10th grade students exercised some of their newfound public speaking skills and shared their summer experience with the ceremony attendees.
"In normal camps for STEM, the kids don't really interact. They might sit in a classroom, solve problems on paper, but at CERDEC they want you to interact with students so you can figure out how to work with different people," said Afsa Simpson, Harford County student and fourth-year summer camp attendee.
Other students offered advice to younger campers, and encouraged them to continue growing their STEM background.
"My advice to kids in lower grades who are interested in STEM is to try everything they can, especially during the summer. Take advantage of the free time we have to go to the many STEM camps," said Malcolm Ferguson, a Baltimore County student. "These programs have given me a chance to network with people who have jobs in STEM and can get you a job in STEM. It will also allow you to realize what STEM field you would like to go into later by trying all the things you can."
Attending this year's camp also helped solidified education and career goals of students.
"This camp reassured to me that I want to continue to follow the STEM path into engineering either as a civil engineer or a mechanical engineer later on in my life," said Tony Cruz, Harford County student. "This was my first year at the CERDEC Summer Camp, and I would have to say, this camp made my summer one of the best summers in a while because throughout the week, we were exposed to many different types of STEM fields."
In addition to exploring STEM fields, other students found life skills to be a key takeaway from the week.
"Two important things I learned this week were communication and teamwork with problem solving," said Pricilla Lee, a Harford County student and first-time CERDEC Summer Camp attendee.
The teachers helped her learn that communication is not always about what is said, but that it can also be about body language, facial expressions and more, said Pricilla.
The idea of growing one's communication skills and curiosity were emphasized throughout the event.
Lt. Col. Michael A. Baker, CERDEC Command, Power and Integration Directorate, told students teamwork, innovation, communication, perseverance and curiosity are the keys to success.
"It's not about how smart you are, it's not the smartest people who succeed," said Baker in regards to advanced degrees. "It's the people who are the most curious, and the most interested in the problem they are working on."
CERDEC continues to reach students and encourage their interests in STEM fields every summer and throughout the school year. Next year's CERDEC Math and Science Summer Camp registration opens the first Monday of February. Information about registration and other programs can be found on the CERDEC website.
The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.