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Home : Home : Warfare Centers : NSWC Dahlgren : Partnerships : Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division STEM : NSWCDD STEM Program Areas

The DoN provides learning opportunities from elementary school through graduate school to inspire and cultivate a diverse pool of exceptional STEM talent. DoN programs connect STEM education in the classroom to the excitement, skills, and challenges that come with safeguarding our country.

Navy Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division supports the Naval STEM efforts by participating in a number of STEM Program Areas.



NSWCDD offers various STEM Outreach activities such as volunteering at local science fairs, career talks, and special demonstration events to highlight the importance of STEM in the community.

Ages: All ages

Timeline: All year

Locations: King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Dahlgren DoDEA, Westmoreland County, Caroline County, Northern Virginia, Eastern Shore Maryland, and Oceana.

Activities: Demonstrations include using liquid nitrogen, Van de Graaf generators, diffraction glasses, pulleys, vacuum pumps, magnets, and various other pieces of equipment to engage the audience members, utilize the scientific method, and showcase different physical and chemical phenomenon.


In-Classroom is an NSWCDD STEM Program that enables the NSWCDD workforce to engage with our communitiy's schools and teahcers to facilitate fun hands on STEM activities aligned with SOLs and peak student interest in STEM disciplines.

Ages: Middle School

Timeline: Throughout the school year. Up to 40 hours over a 6-9 week period.

Attendance: Reaches 25 schools

Locations: Implemented in King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, and Dahlgren DoDEA.

Activities: SME assigned to a classroom and works with a teacher to facilitate a STEM related project. Primary curriculum is based on LEGO Mindstorm robots.


SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that trains teachers to teach their students how to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Students build the ROV from a kit composed of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. For more information, use the following link:

Ages: Elementary/Middle/High School

Timeline: All year, starting in April

Attendance: ~500 students

Location: Competition held at a local pool facility

Activities: Students learn to use a variety of tools and equipment, including PVC pipe cutters, wire strippers, soldering irons and multi-meters to create their SeaPerch. NSWCDD scientists and engineers assist the students through all stages of design and construction. A final field trip to a local pool tests the students’ SeaPerch maneuverability and durability.

FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

FIRST is a robotics competition program that inspires young people to build science, engineering and technology skills. More than 500 DoD-sponsored teams, ranging from ages 6-18, compete in competitions that inspire innovation and build leadership skills. Students explore real-world scientific challenges, learning teamwork, self-confidence, technical skills and innovation. For more information, use the following link:

Ages: Elementary/Middle/High School

Timeline: Builds for each challenge start in January, with Regional and National competitions in April; Teams work year-round to prepare.

Attendance: NSWCDD sponsors 20 teams annually through NDEP including: Stafford Governor’s School, Fredericksburg, James Madison, and two teams on the Eastern Shore with SCSC Wallops.

Locations: In-schools

Activities: LEGO students work with motorized Lego elements, research an engineering challenge, develop a solution, and compete with Lego-based robots of their own design; Tech students design, build and program a robot to play a floor game against other teams; Robotics students compete head to head on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built and programmed. 

Middle School Summer Academy

The NSWCDD Middle School Summer Academy provides middle school students with hands on STEM discovery activities and information which are intended to be fun and drive intrest in STEM disciplines and hopefully increase their likelihood of pursuing STEM careers.

Ages: Middle School

Timeline: One-week summer program (~June, ~0830-1500 daily)

Attendance: 96 students, 20 SMEs, and 18 teachers. Students recruited from King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Fredericksburg, and Dahlgren DoDEA.

Location: King George Middle School

Activities: Navy-focused robotic missions; life sciences activity; STEM-career discussions; STEM-career speakers; balsa wood tower design, build, test, and analysis; foil boat build and testing; M&M statistics challenge; lab demos.

Women in STEM

Women in STEM is geared towards inspiring female student in the Dahlgren area to peruse careers in the field of Science and technology by exposing them to a large variety of STEM Disciplines.

Education systems and schools play a central role in determining girls’ interest in STEM subjects and in providing equal opportunities to access and benefit from quality STEM education. Women in STEM is geared towards inspiring female students in the Dahlgren area to pursue careers in the field of science and engineering by exposing them to a large variety of STEM disciplines.

Ages: Middle and High School

Timeline: Through the School Year

Location: Local Schools

Activities: S&Es work with female students in after-school activities at local Middle and High Schools. Additionally, NSWCDD hosts an annual field trip of high school students to engage in research facility tours, a panel of scientists and engineers, and flash mentoring lunch session.


SeaGlide is a hands-on, project-based program that allows students to learn engineering design, development, and testing.

Ages: High School

Timeline: All Year

Location: Schools

Activities: Deisgn and create a SeaGlide, a small scale minature underwater glider, non teathered autononmous robot that has no propeller, and uses very little energy. Kit builders learn basic electronics and progress to circuit board soldering, programming with Arduino Pro Mini microcontrollers, and building servo-driven buoyancy engines with large, 100cdc syringes and moveable mass to manage buoyance and pitch. A critical final step is to ballast gliders for proper underwater flight.


High School Summer Challenge

The NSWCDD High School Summer Challenge brings STEM disciplines together through the incorporation of workplace experiences to prepare students to meet both current and projected work force needs through an interdisciplinary course of study,

Ages: High School

Timeline: Eight day camp, ~last week of July

Attendance: 25 students, >3 SMEs

Location: Hosted at UMW Dahlgren Campus

Activities: Demonstrate an autonomous surface vehicle; daily talks with NSWCDD employees; tours of NSWCDD sites.


SSEP - STEM Student Employment Program

Provides direct hire authority for undergraduate and graduate degree seeking students enrolled in scientific, technical, engineering, or mathematics majors. The program was established to provide interns with exposure to public service, enhance educational experience, and possibly provide financial aid to support educational goals. Additionally, this program will provide a streamlined and accelerated hiring process to compete successfully with private industry for high-quality scientific, technical, engineering, or mathematics students for filling scientific and engineering positions. For more detailed information on the SSEP Program and other student programs please visit:

Ages: College Students 18 and up

Timeline: All Year