MacDill youth receive hands-on experience with STEM camp

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Scott Warner
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Thirty students from 6th Force Support Squadron’s child development centers participated in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics camp sponsored by the Society of American Military Engineers on base, June 10-14.

Throughout the week, MacDill’s youth practiced sub-surface designation technologies and surveying, environmental restoration, soil classification and how to build a version of Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge.

“The goal of this event is to get kids interested in STEM,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Vernie Reichling, U.S. Special Operation Command’s Army Corps of Engineers liaison officer and a SAME board member. “We think the best way is to get kids hands-on experience so they have a good time while specifically learning basic engineering concepts. “

Tampa Bay’s SAME is an organization comprised of more than 200 military and civilian members whose mission is to bring together professionals in engineering-related fields from around the world, to increase our national engineering capabilities.

“This is the second consecutive year we have collaborated with SAME,” said Harold Hug, the 6th Force Support Squadron director of youth programs.” Last year, we conducted a successful drone camp with SAME and our students.”

With an emergence of more and more STEM-related positions each year, it is an immediate goal for military and civilian sectors to have a mutually beneficial partnership that promotes the interest in these career fields.

“SAME is the brains behind this camp,” said Hug. “From a youth program perspective, we talk to the kids to see what their interests are and SAME implements and adapts the curriculum to their learning level.”

MacDill Air Force Base held the largest military-sponsored science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics event this year, and plans to have these career fields as a focal point for years to come.  

“STEM and STEAM is an education powerhouse that is essential to support 21st century learning,” said Hug. “When applied properly, it gives children the tools to become critical thinkers and complex problem solvers.”