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NEWS | July 29, 2022

NSWCDD Employees Offer STEM Training to Local Teachers

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) employees provided a firsthand learning experience for five teachers from local school districts who hope to translate what they learned to their students when the school year begins.

Luis Valcourt-Colon, a lead scientist and software developer with the Weapon Control Software Branch at NSWCDD, directed the training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus on July 19.

The class featured the construction of SeaPerch remotely operated vehicles for students to use in competition.

The SeaPerch program and a similar program named SeaGlide guide students on building an underwater robot while supplying educators the tools and training to help the students through the process. 

Valcourt-Colon said the programs are an easy start into more complicated areas, such as robotics, and instructors can tailor them to fit any age group.

“Our SeaPerch program offers a great introduction to hands-on STEM projects for students across our region” explains Michael Clark of NSWCDD’s Chief Technology Office, which oversees the division’s academic outreach programs. “Luis has worked with educators across the region to make the program fun for the students and easily accessible for the teachers and schools.” 

Amy Fitch, a technology education teacher at Prospect Heights Middle School in Orange County is in her second year with the program. Fitch said that she learned with her students last year but after this year’s training and suggestions from Valcourt-Colon, she will be better able to instruct them.

Austin Eppenstein, Laura Van Dyk and Shannon Johnson from Grafton Village Elementary School and Katie Vukamnic from Hartwood Elementary in Stafford County also participated. Student volunteer J.J. Van Dyk from Stafford High School was a part of the class as well. 

Five volunteers from the SeaGlide/SeaPerch programs – Tyler Ferro, Brandon Marine, Abner Ortiz-Camacho, Michael McClanahan and Md Muyin – participated in a training for NSWCDD volunteers on July 14. As a result of their participation, these volunteers are now equipped to work with local schools to assist with SeaPerch and SeaGlide programs.