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STEM Initiatives and Community Outreach

If you haven’t heard some of the acronym buzzwords used in education these days, you should become familiar with STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Did you know that STEM principles are part of the everyday activities here in the lab and are applicable to the conservation of USS Monitor artifacts? Well now you do! Students from Virginia Beach learned last week how it all works.

On September 23, I participated in a really great program at Capitol Landing Middle School in Virginia Beach that was organized to be a kick-off event for the development of a pilot STEM-based curriculum. The student-focused STEM Career Conference was organized by Virginia Beach City Schools, the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, our partners!), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Over 500 middle school students signed up for a series of presentations given by STEM professionals from our community. The idea was to give the students an opportunity to learn about STEM-based careers, and interact with those of us in the related fields. Two keynote speakers and twenty-two presenters (including myself) gave half hour talks with time for questions and answers.

So what did I talk about? The Monitor, of course! There were four sessions over the course of the day, with about 20 kids in each group. We talked about the subjects you need to learn in order to be able to conserve the artifacts, and some interesting things about the ship and its life. I had really thoughtful questions from the kids, and their enthusiasm for the subject really made every session a lot of fun.

So thanks to Corporate Landing Middle School, all the great students, and the conference partners for having me!

Special Thanks to Ms. Garvey for sharing her classroom on Friday!

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