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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2022

NSWC Dahlgren Division and the University of Mary Washington Host STEM Event for Drew Middle School Students

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

The University of Mary Washington (UMW) held a STEM event in the newly-renovated Seacobeck Hall at its Fredericksburg campus for a group of eighth graders from Stafford County’s Drew Middle School, Sept. 26. The event featured three stations led by UMW faculty, UMW’s College of Education (COE) students and STEM advocates from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).

The lower floor of Seacobeck Hall, where the event took place, is known as STREAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Reading/Writing, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. It is a high-tech update to a building that dates back to 1930. STREAM features glass-enclosed classrooms with 3D printing and scanning stations.

According to UMW Director of Clinical Experiences Kristina Peck, this marked the first field trip hosted by the COE in the STREAM workspaces. 

The students, who are all members of their school’s Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence class, were broken into groups and rotated between three stations to partake in STEM-related activities. The station hosted by NSWCDD’s Director of Academic Engagement Michael Clark and physicist Scott Gingrich featured snap circuit boards and a demonstration of the electrical conductivity of copper versus stainless steel.

“Mr. Clark and Mr. Gingrich’s enthusiasm for STEM made it easy for our students to connect with them and the activities they presented,” said Stafford County Resource Teacher for the Gifted Rebecca Musso. The snap circuit board was the favorite activity for her students. 

Within the snap circuit board station, the students were tasked with completing four challenges before creating their own designs. Clark and Gingrich agree that the students displayed great initiative and problem-solving capabilities. “I was blown away by their creativity,” Clark said. “It was amazing seeing them thinking outside the box and utilizing skills they just learned to build cool and unique projects.”

NSWCDD Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift made an appearance at the event, spending time working with the students. She said that NSWCDD has worked closely with UMW to design a robust and accessible STEM education program aligned with the state’s education goals to benefit STEM educators, parents and students across Virginia. 

“Having the opportunity to conduct STEM events in UMW’s world-class Seacobeck Hall, alongside some of the nation’s best educators, is so rewarding,” said Clift. “Our collaboration with UMW will be a game changer for STEM education and our local students.”