News from the STEM Office  

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Best Practices in STEM Outreach Workshop

Posted on: September 29, 2014 08:00 EDT by Sarah Durkin

Interest in STEM outreach comes from the heart for Naval scientists and engineers. This was apparent at the Best Practices for STEM Outreach Workshop, hosted by the United States Naval Academy and sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.  Over thirty STEM program coordinators from Naval commands around the nation joined together at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD on Sept 26-27, 2014 to share knowledge and resources for successful implementation of STEM outreach activities and programs.

Discussion forums focused on a range of topics including sustainability and leveraging, identifying and establishing partnerships, utilization of volunteers, assessment methods, and outreach methods and venues. A series of productive, inclusive discussions were led by STEM leaders from across the commands including, Jim Rohr of SPAWAR-Pacific, Toby Ratcliffe of NSWCCD West Bethesda, Joe Calantoni of NRL Stennis, Sarah Durkin of USNA, and Gaetan Mangano of Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

Attendees participated in hands-on educational modules focused on project-based learning methodology, Navy-relevant curriculum, and practical take-away activities. Modules covered a broad range of Navy-relevant topics including corrosion, helicopters, fluids, and cryptography. Engineering design expertise was honed in a friendly competition, “Spuds in Subs”, where teams were challenged to create a submarine out of a potato. Short, portable activities were showcased in a “Land, Air and Sea” Activities Fair, where attendees also received curriculum and materials to replicate many activities at their own commands.

The workshop embodied a collaborative spirit for the Naval STEM outreach community. “The depth and breadth of experience brought thoughtfully to bear on Naval STEM interests was clearly evident,” said Craig Hughes, Deputy Director of Research and Acting Director of Education and Workforce, Office of Naval Research, “The open conversation, positive time together, and expressed commitments to continue the involvements bode very well for our future work to strengthen STEM capabilities in the DoN and the nation.”

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