DAHLGREN, Va. – Although some Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities have been canceled due to COVID-19, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) scientists and engineers plan to host middle and high school STEM summer camps, NSWCDD announced March 25.
“We are also still planning on supporting teacher workshops and participating in curriculum development activities in coordination with a number of external stakeholders,” said Mike Young, NSWCDD STEM director.
Young’s decision came on the heels of an announcement from the president of a STEM-based program, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
“Many of our events in the United States and around the world have been canceled or postponed, including more than half of all future FIRST Robotics Competition events,” states FIRST President Larry Cohen in a March 12 letter posted on the FIRST website at https://www.firstinspires.org/. “We acknowledge and appreciate the thousands of teams, parents, mentors, coaches and volunteers who have poured their hearts and souls into this season, and we share your disappointment.”
Two FIRST Championship 2020 events, scheduled for April, were estimated to bring together 30,000 students from across the United States and 70-plus countries, according to the FIRST Championship website at https://www.firstchampionship.org/
NSWCDD sponsors 20 Virginia-based FIRST Robotics Competition teams annually through the National Defense Education Program including Stafford Governor’s School in Fredericksburg, James Madison High School in Vienna, and two teams on the Eastern Shore with Surface Combat Systems Center at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island.
Teams mentored by NSWCDD scientists and engineers began building robots in January for regional and national competitions originally scheduled to take place in April.
Now, the national championship events have been canceled. However, NSWCDD sponsored teams are looking forward to competing at the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship which has been rescheduled to June 17-20.
“While we realize that this is not a perfect solution, we hope that moving the District Championship to a later date will allow teams to enjoy the excitement and energy of a FIRST Robotics Competition,” said Leighann Scott Boland, FIRST Chesapeake District executive director, and James Kresge, Virginia FIRST Board of Directors Chair in their letter posted on the FIRST Chesapeake website at https://www.firstchesapeake.org
As leaders make difficult choices, they share in similar sentiments.
“The mission of FIRST has always been to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, and we continue to be deeply committed to this mission,” said Cohen. “We know that you will have questions, and we will provide answers in the following days and weeks as we navigate what has been an unprecedented time.”
Young also remains committed to “navigate what has been an unprecedented time.”
“We will remain flexible and adapt as needed to changing circumstances,” said Young. “NSWC STEM Ambassadors remain dedicated to our community – willing to mentor the next generation of scientists and engineers while modeling a high standard of professionalism.”