STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) develops a key skill set that industries increasingly look for when hiring skilled workers. The USNA STEM Center for Education and Outreach were at the forefront of recognizing this urgent national need and made it their mission to encourage more young people to pursue ways to develop this skill set.
To achieve this ambitious mission, USNA created the M-STEM ECA (Midshipmen Science Technology Engineering Mathematics extracurricular activity) featuring both USNA faculty and midshipmen. This group, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, DoDSTEM and the Naval Academy Foundation, provides STEM outreach to local and national communities to engage and influence students and teachers so that together they can build the future of STEM in the U.S. The ECA connects with various communities year-round through a number of impressive programs. This post showcases just a few recent efforts in some of the local and national arenas.
Throughout the fall of 2021, the USNA STEM Center and the Office of Admissions partnered on “STEM Underway,” a series of outreach trips to strategic areas aimed at promoting interest and awareness in STEM and the U.S. Naval Academy. Yetanda Massey, USNA Office of Admissions STEM Coordinator, traveled with midshipmen as part of this exciting initiative to meet with students and local community partners around the nation. They collaborated with students in Detroit, Michigan; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Dallas, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia.
The USNA STEM Center provided the midshipmen with the curriculum and supplies to help students complete defense-relevant STEM projects and effectively discuss STEM majors and careers. Using the engineering design process, the students learned about buoyancy, catapults, rockets, and robotics.
Chicago STEM Initiative
The USNA STEM Center and Office of Admissions reached an important milestone in December 2021 when they wrapped up a year-long Chicago STEM Initiative, which was sponsored by the Avantor Corporation and the Naval Academy Foundation, as well as the Office of Naval Research. This innovative program featured regular visits to Chicago area 9th and 10th grade students at Trinity High School, St. Edward High School, Gwendolyn Brooks High School, and Phoenix Military Academy.
During the visits, students engaged in high-level STEM topics, evolving from applied math and cryptography in spring 2021 to electricity and hardware-software interfaces through the Arduino electronics platform in fall 2021.
Classroom sessions focused on college and career awareness discussions, and the midshipmen provided near-peer mentorship through panel discussions. The goal was to inspire interest in STEM and introduce students to USNA and Navy STEM opportunities. The initiative was a great success!
Washington State Boys and Girls Club Virtual STEM Program
On December 6, the USNA STEM Center collaborated with the Midshipmen Action Group (MAG) to present a virtual interactive STEM program for youth at the Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club in Washington State. Midshipmen led students through hands-on projects exploring the Bernoulli's Principle and autorotation. Students leveraged the engineering design process to design, build, test, and redesign hoop gliders and "whirlygig" rotorcraft. Midshipmen also fielded questions about life at the Naval Academy and their experiences becoming a Naval officer. Special guest and Naval Academy alumni, Captain Eric Hanks, Commanding Officer of nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, joined the Boys and Girls Club facility in person for the outreach event, which was an excellent event for all involved.
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education K-12 Conference
Also on December 6, the USNA Department of Cyber Science Office of Naval Research (ONR) Research Chair, Dennis Dias, and USNA STEM Center Faculty, Christine Maceo, presented at a national cyber event for educators, the 2021 Annual NICE (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference in the “Track: Cross-Curricular Education for Real-World Applications.” The breakout session presentation, “Cybersecurity and Math,” provided hands-on activities in TCP/IP protocols, including the binary math and Boolean operations behind IP Addresses and Subnet Masks, Data Packets, and Three-Way Handshakes. The team also led content discussions and provided historical perspective for greater context. They had a promising turnout with 27 educators attending the live session and 43 educators registered to view the recorded session.
STEM Day with Building STEPS Baltimore
Just ten days later, on December 16, 2021, the USNA STEM Center offered a STEM Day for 50 Baltimore City public high school students at Towson University. The STEM Day was part of Building STEPS Baltimore, an organization that exposes high school students to more opportunities and grants them the support needed for college and career success. At STEM Day, USNA STEM faculty and staff explored biotechnology, structures, and robotics with these students.
Put These Dates on Your Calendar: Upcoming STEM Events
The USNA STEM Center is making a real difference in STEM education. The future of STEM application is not slowing down - and neither is the Center. Their calendar has many more opportunities in store. Currently, they are accepting applications for the High School Girls Biotech Day in Annapolis, MD on January 22nd, as well as the Army-Navy High School Student STEM Day in Annapolis on February 5th.
Whether here in Annapolis or across the country, the Naval Academy STEM Center is working to give students greater access to STEM opportunities and the knowledge to make informed career decisions in this arena. Through these events and more, they are encouraging more young people to join STEM industries, leaving a positive impact on students across the country, and possibly even inspiring future USNA midshipmen. We look forward to seeing them accomplish their critical mission!