BREMERTON, Wash. –
For the second time in three years, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility program of science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach to area students has earned an award from the Navy’s regional headquarters.
The shipyard’s STEM outreach program won a 2018 Community Service Award in the Personal Excellence Partnership category for large organizations, Navy Region Northwest announced Sept. 13.
The program will now compete for a Navy-wide award in this category. PSNS & IMF won the same regional award in 2016 and went on to win the Navy-level award, too.
According to the Naval message announcing the awards, the Personal Excellence Partnership award annually recognizes programs that “help develop youth to their fullest potential in areas of civic and education responsibility; volunteer as tutors, mentors and role models; provide technical expertise, project goals, including scholastic achievement, social and life skills and providing vocational guidance.”
Corinne Beach and Steve Mastel of PSNS & IMF’s Executive Department oversee the PSNS & IMF STEM outreach program, which so far in fiscal year 2018 has reached more than 5,000 area students at seven area school districts and 47 schools.
“I feel so grateful to be able to participate and coordinate this program,” Beach said. “It's wonderful to be recognized, but the real thanks is when you are able to see students ‘get it.’”
Along with STEM teammates from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, and 159 volunteers from the shipyard and other Navy organizations, the PSNS & IMF program brings hands-on science and technology projects to local schools and youth events. Among the more popular programs are FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics teams and SeaPerch underwater remotely operated vehicle projects.
Especially noteworthy during 2018, the program hosted two “Camp Create” week-long STEM summer programs for fifth- through eighth-grade students in July. In partnership with local Navy museums, Western Washington University’s Sea Discovery Center and the USS Turner
Joy, they provided three daily hours of fun with engineering design, motors and magnets, data collection and analysis and soldering to area kids.
In all, the program has reached an estimated 22,000 students during the past 10 years.
“We're helping students see careers available now and helping them learn to
troubleshoot for the problems we don't even know of yet,” Beach said. “PSNS & IMF and Keyport have hired (former) students who have participated in these programs. One said, ‘The ROV program is what spurred my interest in electronics.’”
Students were not the only beneficiaries of the program in 2018. Teachers improved their skills in marine science, coding and bridging during six STEM Café professional development events hosted by program participants.
“Our entire shipyard team is very proud of Corrine, Steve and all the other participants and volunteers who’ve made this program such a success,” said Rick Tift, PSNS & IMF executive director. “Their efforts are helping pave the way for future generations of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and maybe even some future shipyard team members. More importantly, they’re demonstrating our strong commitment to this community, and we look forward to supporting this great program and our local students for many years to come.”