PANAMA CITY, Florida –
Nine students from Patronis Elementary School showed off their FIRST Lego League robot designs to Navy scientists and engineers during Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division’s (NSWC PCD) inaugural STEMinar event March 6, 2019.
“We host the STEMinar to encourage NSWC PCD employees to get engaged with the various outreach programs we hold in the local area,” said Paige George, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach program manager. “We have one of the highest concentrations of advanced degrees in science and technology in the local area at NSWC PCD, and volunteering at one of our events is a great way to give back to the community and share their love of science and engineering.”
In addition to the FIRST Lego League demonstration, STEMinar hosted presentations from SeaPerch, Marine Advanced Technology Education, STEM in a Box, Scientist@School, Invention Convention, Sub Club, STEM Camp, and Science Squad.
NSWC PCD established the STEM Outreach Office specifically to address the decline in U.S. students obtaining science and engineering degrees.
“The statistics on STEM education are sobering,” said Ed Stewart, NSWC PCD technical director. “According to the National Science Foundation, the number of U.S. citizens earning graduate degrees in science and engineering fell five percent in 2014 from its peak in 2008, while foreign students earning the same degrees increased 35 percent. If we are to remain the most technologically sophisticated country in the world, we must do a better job preparing our students.”
In 1995, George was an elementary school student at Patronis Elementary School and watched the Dr. Science show presented by NSWC PCD.
“I have always loved math and science, but I will never forget when Dr. Science visited my school. It was so exciting,” said George. “More than a decade later I am a mechanical engineer at NSWC PCD and my boss had a Dr. Science poster on his wall. It turns out he was part of the show I saw as a kid.”
The long term goal for STEM Outreach at NSWC PCD is to make it clear that NSWC PCD is the employer of choice in the area.
“Through STEM outreach, we have a great opportunity to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers so we can make sure that we are the undisputed technical expert throughout the littoral battlespace,” said Capt. Aaron Peters, NSWC PCD commanding officer.