By Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsApril 22, 2012
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 23, 2012) -- Though they lack the alliterative ring of the "Three Rs," the essential subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, were brought to life for Arnn Elementary students by subject-matter experts from the community here.
Earth/Science Day was held April 19, in conjunction with Arnn's annual Science Fair. The event allowed a variety of Soldiers and civilians from throughout Camp Zama to speak to students and give hands-on presentations regarding their job fields, which ranged from dentistry and astronomy, to entomology and aviation.
"This event marks the start of STEM Week, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," said Arnn teacher Beth Hauck, coordinator of Earth/Science Day. "It's the Zama community coming together and showing us what they do and how science and math and engineering apply to their jobs."
Having specialists from different backgrounds come to the school and engage directly with the students allows them to see how science and math apply in real life, Hauck said.
"It shows the kids that there is a lot of variety out there," she said. "Science to them might just one thing because they only see it here at school, but if they see it done by other people and in a variety of ways, they see that there are many other opportunities for them."
Regular participants in Earth/Science Day are representatives from the Directorate of Public Works here, who manage U.S. Army Garrison Japan's recycling program. They stress to the students the importance of reducing waste, reusing resources, and conserving energy.
"I'm teaching the students how to take care of Mother Earth, and the steps that we can take here at Camp Zama," said Sidney "Butch" Malone, chief of DPW's Mechanical and Sanitation Branch. "I think the kids are our best tools right now because they really do pay attention to what we are saying and they are the ones who are going to carry the game on for the rest of their lives."
Other presenters included Soldiers like Capt. Jaree Johnson and Capt. Lauren Parker. Johnson, the chief medical entomologist at Public Health Command Region-Pacific here, told the students about Japan's various native insect and animal life and passed around preserved specimens of a black widow spider and a centipede for them to examine. Parker, the optometrist assigned to Medical Department Activity-Japan here, fielded questions about her job and explained how the human eye works.
There were even stations outside the school, such as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter parked in a nearby field, and a demonstration area where military police officers displayed the keen detection skills of their team of working dogs.
"It was so cool that so many people came to our school and taught us so many things," said Hizuki Kathey, a fifth-grader at Arnn. "Usually you don't learn about some of these things at school, so I think today was a good experience."
Dakotah Hill, also in fifth grade, said she particularly enjoyed the K-9 demonstration because it revealed the opportunity for a career that combines two of her interests.
"I've always wanted to be a cop, but I also love animals, so I didn't know which [profession] to choose," said Hill. "Now, maybe I do."
Arnn's annual Science Fair was held the following day, during which the projects conceived and created by the students in the last several weeks were put on display and judged in a variety of categories.