By Justin Creech, Belvoir EagleFebruary 23, 2012
Fort Belvoir Elementary School showcased their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program to school partners and potential school partners on Feb. 16 during an hour-and-a-half after school walkthrough.
Representatives from Program Manager for Soldiers, Sensors and Lasers, Fort Belvoir Residential Communities, Clarke Realty and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association saw the Afterschool STEM Projects the children have been working on during the six-week session.
"We wanted to showcase the STEM program with our potential school partners and also school business partners so they would get a sense of what students are doing in that program as well as what the needs are for materials or funding," said Joyce Matthews, School Based Technology Specialist, Fort Belvoir Elementary School. "We are also looking for volunteers. The showcase gave them an opportunity to see what is happening in the program."
The response to the STEM projects was positive as everyone saw first hand the result of the contributions.
"It's fascinating to watch them play with the technology because I think they know it better than I do and that's great," said Ashley Becker, Vice President, Young AFCEANS, AFCEA Belvoir Board. "They want to learn and we help give them the opportunities to do that."
AFCEA Belvoir adopted Fort Belvoir Elementary school to provide support to help the students learn about Science, Math and Technology. They have provided both volunteers and resources to aid the program.
"I'm here to see where our investment is going and it's great to see because the (children) are excited and that's the point," said Becker. "They're gaining a passion for math, science and technology."
Other representatives that attended the showcase were excited to see the students gaining knowledge in career fields that they work in. The representatives watched students' complete tasks they pay other people to complete.
"We pay people a lot of money to do that," said Casey Nolan, Fort Belvoir Residential Communities, LLC, project director of the 3-D modeling software. "I'm watching an eight-year old do what someone that's 40 knows how to do. There are real skills to that, though. It's important to see something on a small scale before you build it on a big scale."
The real-life problem-solving skills the children are obtaining is also a benefit Nolan recognized.
"In the real world with work and jobs you need to collaborate and solve problems together," Nolan said. "These students are learning that at a young age and I think it's great."
Showing contributors the result of their generosity was one objective of the showcase, but maintaining long-term support for the program was another objective.
The organizations that have already provided funding and other resources for the program said they will continue to do so.
"Because of their funding and support we are able to do some great things in these after school and summer programs," said Matthews. "(Clarke Realty and AFCEA) have both said they will continue to do that. Although PMSSL can not provide funding, they have provided resources and employees have come over and worked with the teachers and students."