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ERDC educational outreach

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ERDC educational outreach

  1. 1. 2 . Information Bulletin Issue No. 11-12 July 27, 2012 ERDC NewsERDC’s educational outreach programs influences thousandsBy Bryan Armbrust, Jackie Bryant, Patrice Creel and Dana Finney, ERDC PAO“We are raising a generation of ‘American Idols’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dancers,’ whenwhat we really need is a generation of Gateses (Microsoft founder) and Zuckerbergs (Facebookfounder),”said ERDC-GSL Research Civil Engineer Shelley Tingle. Tingle made the commentsin relating the importance of the ERDC Human Capital Office’s (HCO) efforts in fields of studyfor Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).The ERDC STEM programs began in Vicksburg in Fiscal Year (FY) 10 with Department ofDefense (DOD) National Defense Educational Program (NDEP) funds. CERL and CRRELreceived funding in FY 11 and TEC in FY 12.In FY 11, STEM Programs served an impressive 7,500 students and 200 teachers, whileincreased awareness of STEM opportunities in just the first half of FY 12 attracted more than9,000 participants and involved a number of scientists and engineers (S&Es) at all sites.HCO Assistant Director Dr. Peggy Wright and Education Outreach Coordinator Rick Tillotsondirect the program for Vicksburg, Champaign, Hanover and Alexandria from ERDCheadquarters in Vicksburg, using funds designated for multiplying interest in STEM careers. Involving ERDC S&EsDOD’s NDEP funds educational programs sponsored by the National Center for Advancementof STEM Education (nCASE).A unique component of nCASE focuses on training STEM professionals from designated DODlaboratories nationwide, such as the ERDC. They team these scientists and engineers (S&Es)with teachers in the training process, with each benefitting from the other’s perspective,experience and expertise.Following training, the S&Es visit classrooms of their local nCASE-trained teachers. Theseexperts provide students with a “real-world” perspective, bringing the STEM instruction to life. STEM careers vital to national interestAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM careers will add 785,700 new jobs from 2008to 2018.
  2. 2. “However, we are graduating students at a far lower rate than required to meet demand!” saidTingle. “It is important for us to invest in STEM activities to help our economy and to help theU.S. remain a technology superpower.“And engineers and scientists who are using their skills in the real world are the best qualified tobe investing in STEM activities,” said Tingle, who has been involved in promoting STEMeducational efforts for 20 years.A great promoter of these STEM educational efforts, ERDC annually hires more than 300students through its college student program, with 2011’s students representing 30 states and 70universities.In addition, as a major participant in outreach activities, ERDC draws teachers and students fromkindergarteners to high school seniors through programs including:• Robotics Teams• eCYBERMISSION Teams• STEM Bowl competitors• Science and technology summer camps• STEM teacher workshops• Science Fair judged competitions• Subject matter experts’ classroom presentations• Mathematics video-gaming software• MATHCounts TeamsMany of these ERDC sponsored or co-sponsored teams have won top awards at local, state andregional competitions, reflecting the direction and dedication of their adult sponsors, volunteersand teachers attending STEM workshops, resulting in formation of some of these winning teams. TEC conducts its first STEM teacher workshop ERDC-TEC recently hosted its first such STEM workshop with the theme “Preparing for 21st Century Education.” Six S&Es from TEC and the Army Geospatial Center (AGC) participated in the workshop along with 20 middle school teachers from the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). More than 175,000 students are enrolled in the FCPS, the largest public school system in the Northern Virginia Metropolitan and Baltimore-Washington areas. Master Teacher Stu Schultlz (left), National Center for the Advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and “STEM workshops provide an Mathematics Education listens as a Fairfax County Public opportunity for teachers to learn School teacher presents one of the group’s activities, as ways to encourage student interest Nancy Towne (center), Army Geospatial Center and and engagement in science and ERDC-TEC Physical Scientist Luke Catania (right) look engineering topics,” said TEC on. (Photo by Jackie Bryant, ERDC-TEC.) Management Analyst Shardey 2
  3. 3. Mitchell, who coordinated the workshop. “Observing the interaction between the teachers andour S&Es allowed me to see how the curriculum in the classroom can be applied to real-worldsituations,” she said.The workshop focused on the use of innovative inquiry and design-based methods used througha sports materials’ module. Activities ranged from exploring the design and materials used insports equipment; recognizing material that affect the use of balls in sporting activities; andinvestigating the energy absorption of friction in sports materials.“I enjoyed watching teachers from both within and outside of core STEM courses participatingin an effort to enact a more stimulating and relevant education style with the help of everydayscientists that can benefit students,” said Katlyn Castillo, TEC.“The workshop was fun and engaging. There was such enthusiastic interaction between theteachers and S&Es. This type of hands-on learning in the classroom will really help embed theknowledge in the students’ minds,” said TEC Physical Scientist Luke Catania, adding that “aftercompletion, they will not walk away thinking this was just another lecture. They will rememberwhat they have learned.”Other notable ERDC STEM projects focus on festival exhibits educating the thousands ofattendees who interact with the displays, such as the USA Science and Engineering Festival andthe annual Earth Day, both held in Washington D.C. CRREL’s STEM exhibits popular at major festivalCRREL staffers exhibited a premierSTEM educational tool with the SyntheticAutomotive Virtual Environment (SAVE)driving simulator as ERDC’s mainattraction at the festival. Wright,Tillotson, Mary Roko and Shannon Duvalof the Alexandria Executive Office alsosupported the activity.An estimated 150,000 people attended thethree-day festival, which featured morethan 3,000 fun and interactive exhibitsand science celebrities, the Myth Bustersand Bill Nye, the science guy.ERDC’s “four-degree-of-freedom” ERDC-CRREL’s Synthetic Automotive Virtualsimulator ran non-stop and allowed more Environment driving simulator was a big hit at thisthan 200 “drivers” to perform log year’s USA Science and Engineering Festival incrossings, traverse gravel, snow and mud Washington, D.C., as part of the laboratory’sand experience a near roll-over from a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematicssimulated blast, as they navigated a program.virtual High Mobility MultipurposeWheeled Vehicle over a unique course created for the festival.Another of ERDC’s co-sponsored exhibits featured STEM Alaska’s Big Ice Team, a program ofthe Juneau Economic Development Council to highlight the climatic changes underway in theArctic in a way that makes a lasting impact on current and future leaders. Among the manyhands-on exhibits from Alaska were Wooly Mammoth and Steppe Bison bones from ERDC’spermafrost tunnel and bones collected near the tunnel. 3
  4. 4. Initial CERL training focuses on mathematicsUsing NDEP funds, CERL’s John Mudrick set up a training forum in May for math teachersfrom the local Champaign-Urbana middle schools as part of its STEM program.He shared that a guiding principle for nCASE states that today’s youth – the “Millinnials” – aretechnically literate like no other generation before them. In a culture dominated by iPods, digitalcameras, cell phones, educational games, and similar gadgets, teachers have no choice but tointegrate digital technology into their curricula if they hope to keep students excited aboutlearning.In Champaign, the first week of training was for two MWMs (Composites and Sports Materials)while the second week provided immersion in DimensionU tools. These computer-based“games,” which are Tabula Digita products, make learning fun by creating challenges that require students to use different math principles and creative thinking to garner points toward “winning” the game. According to Amos Lee, a teacher at Jefferson Middle School, “A lot of kids play video games and these tools use many of the same interfaces, so it will be an easy adjustment for my students to learn. They will also be able to do it on their own, and we can monitor when they’re logged in at school or at home and know how much time they’re spending on it.” Lee added, “The training really got us excited about the game and if you can get Amos Lee, a Champaign Unit 4 school teacher, loads a Tabula Digita math game as part of teachers excited, they can pass it along to ERDC-CERL’s STEM program. (Photo by Dana their students. Any time you can get kids Finney, ERDC PAO.) motivated to do math, it’s a good thing!” A portion of CERL’s funding paid forthree-year licenses to use the Tabula Digita games. Funds also covered classroom supplies,stipends for the local teachers, and a certified instructor from nCASE. To date, six CERL S&Esare participating in the program. Strong support for eCYBERMISSIONAnother STEM component involving ERDC team members centers on Army-sponsoredeCYBERMISSION competitions. Free for students in grades six through nine, this is a Web-based STEM competition where teams vie for state, regional and national awards while workingto solve problems in their community. eCYBERMISSION’s goal is to increase the number ofstudents studying STEM-related subjects, by piquing their interest in STEM and the excitingcareer possibilities. 4
  5. 5. After completing the 2011 GEMS summer camp at Vicksburg, these four eighth graders formed an eCYBERMISSION Team named “Floodstoppers.” Team members, from left, Nick Wright, Max Wamsley, Liz Boyd, and Emily Tingle chose a project to retrofit low-income homes prone to flooding, shown on their website, www.floodstoppers.org . This team won first place in the state competition, advancing to become a regional semi-finalist, only losing to China. ERDC-GSL Research Engineer Shelley Tingle served as team organizer and adviser.This year’s Vicksburg eCYBERMISSION team, “Floodstoppers,” with Tingle as volunteeradviser, won the state competition and advanced to the southeastern regional competition wherethey won over 1,000 students to claim second place. Dr. Jeff Steevens, ERDC-EL, alsomentored an award-winning eCYBER team in 2011.ERDC recently supported USACE Headquarters in staffing a booth at RDECOM’s STEM TechExpo in Leesburg, Va., where 16 first-place regional winning teams from across the nationattended the 2012 eCYBERMISSION conference, competing to win up to $2,500 and thenational title for each grade. STEM Volunteers welcomedFrom robotics team sponsors to classroom presenters, opportunities abound for team membervolunteers, who are always welcomed by the HCO for increasing involvement in the myriad ofavailable STEM activities.For information on and involvement in ERDC’s STEM program, contact Rick Tillotson at 601-634-5376 or e-mail Richard.V.Tillotson@usace.army.mil. A Look Around the Labs . . .Survivability demo allows attendees to walk a few steps in SoldiersshoesBy Megan Holland, ERDC PAOIt is early evening, nearing the end of a long and exhausting day. The relentless sun has yet toshow signs of cooling and everyone is hoping for a few hours of relaxation – and then the firstexplosion sounds. Everyone springs into action as more shots are fired. Dinner is forgotten. Thegoal now is to stay alive. 5

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