FORT GREELY, Alaska — Twenty-one middle school students from Delta Junction, Alaska are one step closer to realizing their dream professions thanks to U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center.
The Army, via a grant to CRTC’s higher headquarters at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, empowered the youth during the weeklong Achieving Widespread STEM Outreach using Mission Experience (AWSOME) event at Fort Greely Aug. 1-4. Focusing on age and grade appropriate hands-on experiences, the students participated in activities in the fields of science and mathematics.
Aden McCarrick, 13, walks away from this camp with a new-found passion for science, having enjoyed the daily experiences while gaining a possible glimpse into his not-so-distant future career.
“We learned a lot about how they test equipment, and it was fun driving around remote-control cars,” McCarrick said. “I love science … I want to join the military when I grow up and want to incorporate science into my job.”
The daily activities provided meaningful experiences for the students. They learned about engineering, coding, robotics, high-speed optics, and mathematic concepts throughout the week. Being taught by engineers and scientists employed by the hosting organizations, some of whom graduated from Delta Junction High School, gives a whole new meaning to the term giving back to the community.
“There’s so much pressure on kids when they enter high school, ‘What do you want to do? Where do you want to go to college?’” said Paula Rickleff, workforce development and STEM outreach manager for U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. “The more exposure we can give them to different disciplines allows them to spark an interest, or realize they aren’t interested.”
The importance of a STEM outreach program is not at all lost on CRTC Technical Director Jeffrey Lipscomb, who provided oversight to the week’s activities.
“The need for STEM literacy is growing exponentially, and these children are the answer to our nation’s most complex problems,” said Lipscomb. “I am so grateful to work for an organization who cares about bringing a program like this to our small, tight-knit community.”
The AWSOME program was funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program, which offers our nation’s youth and teachers opportunities for meaningful, real-world STEM experiences.