DAHLGREN, Va. –
On a hot and humid day at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, employees brought their children to work for the first “Bring Your Child to Work Day” since before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were indoor and outdoor events throughout the day as children took part in activities that correlated to their parents’ occupations.
Leigh Parrish, a cost analyst engineer for the Integrated Combat Systems Department at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), equated the activities during the Crazy Cost Carnival to her job description.
The first test Parrish described to the children was a game called “Crocodile Crunch.”
The children had to balance a popsicle stick in their front teeth with six dice on it.
“In cost analysis, we have to do a lot of balancing of the cost and balancing of the schedules to make sure things work out and we don’t go over budget,” Parrish explained.
The carnival was part of an extensive day of activities for the children of base employees.
Parents said the information shared with the youth was beneficial, even if some of them are too young to completely grasp it.
Beverly Cusworth said she is glad that her 6-year-old daughter, Cecilia, had fun.
“I really liked how [Parrish] explained it in the beginning and how they related the games to the work,” Cusworth said. “That was very smart… [Cecilia is] identifying fun with mom’s work and she was able to come into my office. That was really good.”
Some children started their day with the 3-2-1 Blast Off! activity on the Dahlgren Parade Field with a team from the Integrated Engagement Systems Department, where they launched water bottle rockets.
The activity started with youth learning various design considerations, an explanation of each component and the physics behind how rockets operate. They then launched the rockets, noting the effects of different design parameters. At the end of the session, they received a 3D-printed NSWCDD miniature rocket.
Parent Krystle Galyen said her daughter Teagan, 7, was excited to shoot off the bottle rocket and participate in other festivities.
Teagan said she learned from the bottle rocket exercise that “the higher it goes, the less far it goes.”
“I feel like it went well,” said Patrick Boyd Head of the Aerosciences Modeling and Engagement Branch in the Integrated Engagement Systems Department. “Despite some problems with the launchers, I believe the children learned key aspects of aerospace engineering which is what our branch does. We work on modeling and simulations of rockets and other guided munitions for the Navy and the Marine Corps.”
Weapons Control and Integration Department Mechanical Engineer Tim Peng had several children stop by his department for STEM activities. Peng wanted to expose youth to 3D printing. Children designed and built their own rubber-band powered airplanes that they tested outside by throwing it through hoops.
They also operated two simulators – one flight simulator and one developed specifically for drones.
“We are using the 3D printer to make components for the drones that we’re flying,” Peng said.
It was all familiar to NSWCDD employee Lee Shipley, who tests the real version of those drones in the Weapons Control and Integration Department.
Shipley brought his two children, Tyler, 13, and Eliana, 9, with him to participate in the activities. Tyler has decided early on that he wants to become an electrical engineer.
“Eliana excels in mathematics, but she claims she wants to be a dance teacher,” Shipley said. “We shall see. Maybe things change after today.”
Children also participated in a Gunship Robot Hunt in which participants took the role of a Battle Management System AC-130 Gunship Operator and used simulated gun weapon systems to shoot at robots in a video game/training environment.
Willem Craun, a scientist and Gunfire Control System lead analyst, noted that the hunt enabled kids to track down and eliminate simulated robots.
Amanda Clark, Head of the Autonomous Weapons and Robotics Systems Branch, said her 11-year-old son Liam is a video game enthusiast. She is hopeful experiences like this demonstrate to him that his passion can turn into a productive career.
“It shows them they can do good things,” Clark said. “It gets them into programming and understanding how computers work and how they make the video games. It’s good that they are getting exposure to the different things that they can do.”
In addition to more than 100 sessions of activities throughout Bring Your Child to Work Day, Cannonball Lanes had $2 bowling games and $1 shoe rentals, the Community Rec Center served free snow cones and Gray’s Landing offered kid-friendly fare for lunch.