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Community partnership brings STEM to MacDill youth center

A child flies a drone inside of the youth center gymnasium at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

A child flies a drone inside of the youth center gymnasium at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. Children were taught Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and drone flying information before flying one. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

Children flew drones inside of the youth center gymnasium at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

Children flew drones inside of the youth center gymnasium at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. Kids learned Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and drone safety before being able to fly one. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

Children research Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for flying drones at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

Children research Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for flying drones at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. Before being able to fly the drones, groups were required to learn safety guidelines and protocols. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

A child puts a drone together at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

A child puts a drone together at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. Children were put into groups and built drones before being able to fly them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

Children at the youth center charge drone batteries at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

Children at the youth center charge drone batteries at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. This camp is a week-long educational opportunity for military children at MacDill to learn about engineering and flying drones. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

Children at the youth center set up drones at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

Children at the youth center set up drones at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. The youth center partnered with the Society of American Military Engineers to bring STEM education to military children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

Vernie L. Reichling, a liaison officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, briefs children on safety during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018.

Vernie L. Reichling, a liaison officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, briefs children on safety during a Science Technology Engineering and Math camp June 5, 2018. The youth center partnered with the Society of American Military Engineers to bring STEM education to military children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The MacDill Youth Center partnered with the Society of American Military Engineers to bring a week-long Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) camp to military children June 4-8 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

“STEM is an educational powerhouse,” said Chris Hug, director of youth programs. “When applied properly it can give children the tools to become thinkers and problem solvers.”

Children learned how to build drones, they researched safety and Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for flying them.

“We want to create safe operators first and foremost,” said Vernie L. Reichling, a liaison officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We really focused on teaching them safety before we taught them the other stuff.”

The camp had several events to include a field trip to the Port of Tampa to see a drone demonstration and learn about the drones from an engineering perspective.

“We want to get kids involved in STEM at an early age,” said Reichling. “Then we build on that with the goal that they continue on into one of these career fields.”

During another demonstration, the campers learned about a water-borne drone that has the capability to map out what is in the water beneath it.

After focusing on safety, drone flying protocols and their capabilities, the children were able to hone their flying skills with a computer-based drone simulator.

On the last day of the camp everything the campers learned culminated with a drone obstacle challenge.

“It’s important that these kids have a good time and enjoy themselves while they learn the basics and become safe operators,” said Reichling.  

At the end of the camp each camper received their very own drone.

“One of these kids could be the next Einstein when it comes to drone flying, maybe in space,” said Reichling. “That is what we are here to promote.”