ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics RD&E center -- or CERDEC -- will host its annual series of Math & Science Summer Camps at the Harford Glen Environmental Center in Bel Air, Maryland July 9 -- Aug. 3.

Students, grades 5 through 10, will get the best of current technology in an exciting, hands-on camp setting designed to enhance student interest in science, technology, engineering and math -- or STEM -- said CERDEC Director Jill Smith.

"STEM is more important than ever because so many things are driven by science and math. We feel that if you engage students at a young age, it will motivate them to continue on in these fields. We want to combat any misconception about who can be an engineer: in some cases, kids are placed in a discipline and told that's what they're good at when they might have the innovative and problem solving skills to succeed as an engineer or a scientist. We're helping them to realize their potential and options," Smith said.

During the camps, state-certified teachers instruct subjects such as flight and rocketry, satellites, robotics and sensors; students also tour CERDEC labs so they can "see what actual engineers are doing". The one-week sessions run Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. -- 3:30 p.m. and are as follows:

"Ways to see the World-Night Vision, Sensor, Optics and Biometric Identification," July 9-13:
Students grades 9 and 10 will work on a variety of hands-on projects that will help them understand how technology has changed the ways in which sensory data is collected and analyzed.

"Robotics- Green Cities Challenge," July 30-Aug. 3: Students grades 7 and 8 will use the newest Lego Mindstorms to learn the principles of robotics programming and apply them to specific goal oriented projects. They will construct, test and adapt their designs to optimize performance.

"The Sky's the Limit- Flight, Rocketry and Satellites,"Aug. 6-10: Based on principles of inquiry and experimentation Delta Education's Science Module will help students grades 5 and 6 learn about the basic principle of flight necessary to launch satellites into space and how that technology impacts our daily lives.

The Student Application Form can be found at http://www.cerdec.army.mil/outreach/math_science_camp.asp then downloaded and e-mailed to usarmy.apg.cerdec.mbx.outreach@mail.mil by April 15. All students participating must be U.S. citizens.

Those accepted into this year's camp program will receive a Welcome Packet by May 1st. The parents of those students who are accepted are required to attend a mandatory registration session on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Information on time and location of registration will be included in the Welcome Packet. There is a $30, cash only, fee due at registration for all students participating in the camp.

This will be the eighteenth year for the camps, which ran at Fort Monmouth, N.J. from 1995 to 2010 before moving to Aberdeen Proving Ground in 2009. Camps ran simultaneously in both locations during 2009 and 2010 as the organization began the final stages of transitioning its mission to APG.

CERDEC, whose outreach mission includes sparking STEM interest in K-12 students, supports numerous national and local programs including eCYBERMISSION, the U.S. Army All American Bowl, the Maryland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, Technology Needs Teens and Futures 11.

"By dedicating our time to work directly with students and teachers through these programs we can help build the future science and engineering workforce of this country. We have the resources and the expertise to open opportunities for local students in STEM, and because of that, it is our responsibility to do so," Smith said.

CERDEC recently sponsored and mentored a team of 36 local high school students that will compete in the Chesapeake Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at the Baltimore Convention Center March 8-10. For six weeks, the students worked in a CERDEC lab constructing the robot under the direction of engineers, technicians, sheet metal mechanics and machinists.

"Our engineers volunteer to support various outreach initiatives, whether that's providing a demo, speaking to a group of kids or mentoring students throughout a project. At the summer camps, we have engineers come out from the various organizations within CERDEC to talk with the students and answer questions. We have a lot to offer when it comes to helping schools develop STEM programs," said Ron Seldon, acting lead for CERDEC's Educational Outreach Team.

One innovative program as of late is the STEM Superstar Road Show where students grades K-5 are given a bucket of random supplies, a scenario and an allotted period of time to build something that will solve the problem in the scenario.

"You'd be surprised at what they come up with. Once they do it, they see how math and science work together and are more apt to want to learn more," Seldon said.

Promoting STEM is essential to the nation's defense as well, said Smith who noted the importance of "staying ahead in a global environment" by growing scientists and engineers who will continue to develop technologies to support and protect Soldiers.

"We research and develop cutting-edge technologies to support our Soldiers, but one of the most important things we can help develop is the next generation of cutting-edge minds. The scientists and engineers here take this obligation seriously, and they don't hesitate to sit down and share knowledge with what they see as their next generation. We're doing our best to help shape our future leaders in these fields," Smith said.

For more information regarding the Math & Science Summer Camps or other CERDEC-sponsored STEM programs, contact CERDEC Outreach at usarmy.apg.cerdec.mbx.outreach@mail.mil.