NSSA Engineers Work with Rising Freshmen to Promote STEM

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Story Number: NNS140801-04Release Date: 8/1/2014 9:07:00 AM

By Deborah Burkett, Norfolk Ship Support Activity Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Norfolk Ship Support Activity (NSSA) engineers partnered with teachers at Heritage High School for the STEMulating Minds Summer Enrichment Program in Newport News July 21-30.

NSSA mentored 22 rising 9th grade Governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy students with the innovative underwater robotics program, SeaPerch, providing encouragement and stimulation regarding the field of science and technology.

"The program is a great way to teach the STEM students about what engineering is and how electrical and mechanical engineering make a vessel float or sink (if it's a submarine), how electronic controllers are integrated and put together, and how electronics and electricity can be used to move a vessel through the use of electric motors and propellers," said NSSA Auxiliaries and Pollution Abatement Branch Manager Stanley Ward. "The program is a great way to keep students interested with hands-on learning activities and coordination skills which are needed to build and solder the SeaPerch."

The SeaPerch project consists of building an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), following a curriculum which develops critical-thinking, problem solving, decision-making skills and team work.

"It's a great program for the kids to get involved in, to get actual hands-on experience with designing and building something of their own creation," said NSSA Gas Turbines, Engineering Controls & Integrated Condition Assesment System Administrator Steven Peterson. "This program allows students to be exposed to engineering in a fun tangible way, which in my opinion, could start a hobby that could eventually turn into a career."

Ward and Peterson answered the call from NSSA to volunteer their time as subject matter experts, assisting the students in incorporating basic engineering and science concepts, and technical applications.

"I saw this as an opportunity to promote our command in the community and be a part of growing our country's future engineers," said Ward. "I enjoy working with young people and helping them figure out what they want to accomplish in life."

On day one, students were put into teams, briefed and educated on what the SeaPerch ROV project entailed, and in the following days, the students began designing, building and testing their own ROV projects.

"Our impact gave the students the support they needed to over-come the 'I can't do this,' which I heard them say early on, to an 'I can do this' attitude," said Ward. "They really went from scared, to not wanting to stop and were amazed at what they thought they couldn't accomplish at first and then in the end they accomplished it."

NSSA will work with Heritage High School students again in the late fall when they hold their annual science fair.

"I would highly encourage all in the command to step out of the box and volunteer to work with the STEM program," said Ward. "This type of program keeps our kids off the streets and out of trouble, and keeps them interested in learning."

For more information on NSSA please visit: http://www.navy.mil/local/nssa.

For more news from Norfolk Ship Support Activity, visit www.navy.mil/local/nssa/.

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