By Crystal FarrisJanuary 21, 2020
BOISE, Idaho - Members from the Idaho Military Division joined Governor Brad Little, state legislators and various local organizations Jan. 15 at the Idaho State Capitol in support of the fifth annual Idaho STEM Matters Day.
The event provided free, hands-on educational opportunities for K-12 students, families and community members across the Treasure Valley looking to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
It also gave the Idaho Military Division the opportunity to familiarize visitors with the various STEM-related careers available within its organization, said Capt. Gregg Miller an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance liaison officer for the Idaho Air National Guard's 124th Air Support Operations Squadron.
"Our overall mission is to advise and assist the Army in the use of air assets for kinetic strikes on the battlefield," said Miller. "It's important we recognize that STEM is part of many things we do in this job and throughout the military. One example is the use of radar, which helps us to maintain positive control of air assets and ensure ground forces are properly supported."
The team of ASOS Airmen was one of several Idaho Military Division representatives to participate in the event. Others included the 101st Civil Support Team, the 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion, the 2nd Battalion of the 116th Cavalry Regiment and the Idaho Office of Emergency Management.
Each representative provided information and familiarized visitors with their equipment on display, which included the 101st CST's mobile Analytic Laboratory System; the 116th BEB's RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aircraft system; the 124th ASOS's MRZR all-terrain vehicle; and the IOEM's Mobile Communications Vehicle.
The ASOS's MRZR is a good example of a high-tech vehicle that enables military personnel to quickly traverse all types of terrain and environments, said Miller. However, it is just one of many pieces of equipment the organization depends on daily to conduct operations, he added.
In addition to STEM equipment, STEM-related careers are widely available within the Idaho Military Division and include professions in the medical, cyber, communications, construction, intelligence and logistical fields.
"The military has so many cool STEM jobs around the world," said Angela Hemingway, Idaho STEM Action Center executive director. "Having the Idaho Guard at this event helped kids engage with all types of STEM professionals and showcased the diversity of job opportunities available to them right here in our amazing state."
The annual Idaho STEM Action Center event promotes a prosperous STEM-literate Idaho by introducing communities to STEM opportunities and highlighting students, community members and industries making positive impacts in the field, Hemingway said.
In addition to members of the Idaho National Guard and Idaho Office of Emergency Management, the Boise State University Children's Center, Discovery Center of Idaho, First Tech Challenge, Idaho Commission for Libraries, Idaho National Laboratory and Micron also participated.
Hosts provided guests with various interactive displays and activities involving building blocks, Legos, robotics, virtual reality devices and more. Each station incorporated some aspects of science, technology, engineering or mathematics designed to motivate guests to apply STEM-skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving.