By Capt. Robert N Durr (1st ID)April 25, 2016
USAG-Yongsan, SOUTH KOREA -- Soldiers from the 1st Signal Brigade welcomed students from the Seoul American Elementary School to a week-long interactive exhibit supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics here beginning April 18. This year's fifth annual STEM Week gave students an opportunity to get a hand-on experience with the Army's latest communications equipment.
Spc. Ashley Saahir, an Information Technology Specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Signal Brigade, said STEM Week is about teaching students about the different communications and technological equipment the military uses.
"I think it's very important that the children are here and we interact with them," Saahir said.
Saahir said the hands-on interaction gives students a better understanding about technology and engineering and opens their eyes to opportunities.
Pvt. Zachariah Clark, 19, a team member on the troposcatter communications system, said this year's STEM Week has been a good way for students to get excited about science and technology by letting them get experience the different communications equipment themselves.
"I think their favorite thing to do is just touch everything, interact with all the pieces of equipment," Clark said. "It's fun to be out here having little kids look up to me and me teaching them. Hopefully they can learn from me."
Pfc. Ryan Collins, 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade enjoyed teaching students about the brigade's signal equipment throughout the week and said interacting with the students was a breath of fresh air.
When students made their way to Collins' interactive station, he demonstrated how soldiers use the Army's Secure Internet Protocol Router Network/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point or SNAP to stay in touch around the world.
"We've had the kids help us set it up, deploy it, stow it," Collins said. "It makes me feel fantastic. I love working with kids."
Spc. Brice Johnson, an information technology specialist with the 304th ESB said given the chance he would participate in another STEM Week event in a heartbeat.
Not only did the event teach the students about science and technology, Johnson said it also taught them about what soldiers do on a daily basis.
"It instills pride and instills a sense of purpose for the kids to understand what their parents do every day," Johnson said. "These kids brightened up when I told them about our system and what it does and its capabilities."
Allison Fenimore, Educational Technologist at Seoul American Elementary School, has participated in STEM Week with the 1st Signal Brigade for four of the last five years. She said this year has been a lot more interactive for the kids.
"This year the guys let the kids touch everything. They were climbing in trucks," Fenimore said. "They were actually learning and trying to make these pieces of equipment work. The kids really got a hands-on experience, which they enjoyed."
Fenimore said the energy and attitude of the 1st Signal Brigade Soldiers really resonated with the students.
"They have been so excited and they've had such a good time. They're still talking about it," Fenimore said. "We love this event. It's amazing and every year it always gets better and better. Every year they come up, they're positive, they're energetic, and they're professional."
The partnership between the 1st Signal Brigade and the Seoul American Elementary School is one that continues to get better Fenimore said.
"It's the longest running program that we've had here at Seoul American Elementary School and this is the only brigade that has given us this much commitment over multiple years" Fenimore said. "We can't say how much we appreciate this."