NAWCWD shows students how science, technology, can be used in real life

CHINA LAKE — Scientists, engineers and technicians from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division reached out to more than 1,200 students at Sherman E. Burroughs High School on April 5 during a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Showcase with seven hands-on demonstrations designed to spark interest in STEM careers.

“This is an awesome opportunity to influence the younger generation by showing them not only what we do, but what they can do in the future,” said electrical engineer and division head Stephen Farmer.

In one of the interactive demonstrations, China Lakers Ron Cram, Kyle Donohue, Matt Garcia, Anthony Gonzalez and Shaun Hull used video representation to explain how the Sidewinder missile system sees its target.

“What I want them to realize is that what they are learning in school may seem dull or boring now, but that knowledge can really open up a lot of doors in a lot of ways,” said Hull.

“We try to transmit our excitement for what we do to the students,” said Cram. “I want to get the kids to imagine, to want more, to do more, to strive and excel.”

Kyle Blades, Alyssa Day, Tanner Hannon, Brian Kajiwara and Bill Kirkpatrick showed the students how the advanced targeting forward-looking infrared targeting pod for the F/A-18 works.

Hannon, a 2012 BHS graduate, said the STEM Showcase and other events on the base influenced his goal to be a military pilot, and now he wants to set a positive example for students.

“I loved these kinds of events and I want other kids to feel how I did,” he said. “I want them to know that they can actually do something cool.”

Lawrence Baldwin, Dr. Lee Cambrea, Matt Davis, Dr. Ben Harvey and Heather Meylemans gave chemistry demonstrations on flash paper that burns without smoke, nanoparticles made of iron that react to a magnet and a Rubens Tube that visualizes sound waves using flames.

“I hope they all want to become chemists,” said Cambrea.

Adam Curry and Chris Hoskins had students jumping up and down during their demonstration incorporating science, technology, engineering and math to calculate how high students jumped by measuring how long they were off the floor.

Calling science “the coolest thing you could possibly do,” Hoskins added, “Some people get turned off by how science is presented but for the most part it is a lot of fun,”

BHS senior Christina Carter praised the NAWCWD demonstrators for being “really interactive.”

Nick Hageman, James LeJeune, Greg Kapeles and Samantha Matthews led the “Go with the Flow” demonstration.

This is the first year volunteering for Matthews, who explained airflow principles to the students.

“When I was in high school, we never had an opportunity like this,” he said.

“It’s important to get kids excited about science early and hopefully encourage them to see it as a possible career.”

Story First Published: 2013-04-17