MDA and UAH share STEM concepts with students

MDA and UAH share STEM concepts with students

MDA STEM Director Gore Encourages Students to Follow Dreams

Students at Akers School were treated to seminars by engineers from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on March 22, as a part of the school’s annual College & Career Night.

Dr. Matthew Turner and Dr. Michael Benfield, both research engineers from UAH, spoke to the students about their work with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which is anticipated to be the most powerful rocket NASA has launched to date. Upon completion, the rocket will launch the Orion Spacecraft thousands of miles beyond the moon for human exploration of asteroids and Mars.

March 30, 2018 - Dr. Patricia Gore, director, MDA STEM Program, spoke about her work with the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and her 30+ year career in the field of engineering. Currently the engineering field is comprised of 80 percent males and 20 percent females, and Gore stressed to the girls at Akers the importance of pursuing their dreams and supporting each other.

“No matter who you are, you can do it. Always remember that,” she said.

Their visit to Akers School came at the hands of Akers’ Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) program coordinator, Clare Huff. Huff attended the MDA STEM Education Development Workshop in Virginia last summer, a professional development program for K-8 teachers to explore STEM concepts in real-world contexts. She reached out to Turner, Benfield, and Gore in the hopes of finding someone in the field of engineering to attend Akers College & Career Night.

“I thought maybe we could get someone to Skype in, but they told me they’d be happy to come out to Lemoore. It was amazing for the kids living here in a rural area to have an opportunity they otherwise may not have gotten,” Huff said.

Throughout the day the doctors visited junior high science classes, held an assembly for the elementary students and spoke with the STEM Club students after school. Seminars were held during the College & Career Night, which was open to everyone aboard Naval Air Station Lemoore. Students from Stratford and Central Union Elementary Schools also attended the event. Dr. Turner and Dr. Benfield spoke at Neutra Elementary on Friday.
One of the highlights of their visit was the launch of a high-altitude balloon whose journey could be tracked in real-time online. Thursday’s inclement weather gave way to sunny skies just in time for the balloon to be launched at 5:15 p.m. The balloon traveled at speeds between 30 and 50 mph, reaching an altitude of over 100,000 feet before bursting over Modena, Utah.

Byline: Dawn Berkenkamp Special to Lemoore Navy News