Local middle school students say YES! to math, science, technology

Local middle school students say  YES! to math, science, technologyAt right, students wait anxiously as volunteer John A. Johnson helps them test the strength of their spaghetti bridges during the YES! conference. — U.S. Navy photo by Stacie Lawrence

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By STACIE LAWRENCE

NAWCWD Public Affairs

A resounding thank you could be heard through the hallways of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s McLean Laboratory as 147 middle school students wrapped up the eighth annual Young Engineers and Scientists! of Ridgecrest Conference on Sept. 22.

Each student spent the day participating in three of the 15 available workshops, with all students diving into various science, technology, engineering and math projects with the help of nearly 50 community and base volunteers.

Lance “Pink” Floyd, systems engineer, opened the day by explaining how math helped him become a test pilot. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Phil Doskocil and Software Developer Patrick Mahoney showed the students some of the details of their jobs.

EOD Technician Tim Bray joined Doskocil during lunch to welcome students into a Bomb Squad truck and explain the robotics EOD uses.

“I think this conference gives our volunteers the chance to remember why they got into math and science and pull out those cool experiments from way back when that made them say, ‘Wow, this is so cool!’” said YES! Organizer Erica Beeler. “They get to pass that on to the next generation and see that same excitement wash over the students they teach.”

There was no shortage of excitement as the students explored their interests by creating parachutes, robots made out of syringes, architectural designs and much more. Several of the workshops tested the students’ teambuilding skills while giving them a better awareness of the jobs available to them on and off the base.

“My favorite workshop was programming,” said Nathan Roger, a seventh-grade student from Murray Middle School.

“The volunteers are teaching us about what they do on base, all about weapons testing and how they use science and math.”

Water experiments, brain surgery and volcano eruptions were among the responses students gave when asked what kind of workshops they’d like to see in the future. For many, this was their second or even third and final year participating in YES! Still, they wanted to come back.

“This year I had a student at the very end of the day tell me, ‘We raised our hands when you asked if we wanted to come back, even though we know we can’t because we’re in eighth grade,’” Beeler recalled. “’We really like it!’ That right there is exactly why we do this. I am humbled by all the involvement from so many aspects of the base workforce and the community.”

Story First Published: 2018-10-26