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U.S. Navy Hosts Student Drone Camp

STEM Among the Military Branches

The United States Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst (NAWCAD LKE) partnered with New Jersey’s Toms River School District to host a drone camp at which students were instructed in the basics of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) design, purpose, and operation.

The camp’s Drone Legends STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Fundamentals course helped participating fifth-through-eighth-grade students learn to fly drones, the purposes to which such machines are put in the real-world, and the correlation of mathematics and science to UAV design, construction, testing, and fielding. Students learned, also, about UAV video-recording and the editing of content captured by in-flight drones.

NAWCAD LKE education outreach coordinator Haidy Oliveira described the camp as an enjoyable and effective means by which to introduce drones to students interested in learning about and flying them. Moreover, the camp afforded those students previously exposed to drone-flying opportunity to advance their skills.

Oliveira stated: “It was a summer camp, so I was trying to make it more relaxed and not overly educational. Most of the kids had a really good time. They worked in groups and teams, so they’re able to help each other out.”

In light of the inaugural camp’s success, Oliveira expressed hope that the program would be continued and expanded to include drone-racing for high school students and a beginner’s program for young elementary school students.

In addition to the drone camp, NAWCAD LKE was involved in the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration (STARBASE) program, the mission statement of which sets forth:

“To expose our nation’s youth to the technological environments and positive civilian and military role models found on Active, Guard, and Reserve military bases and installations, nurture a winning network of collaborators, and build mutual loyalty within our communities, by providing 25-hours of exemplary hands-on instruction and activities that meet or exceed the National Standards.”

Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the STARBASE program allows students to participate in challenging “hands-on, minds-on” STEM-related activities. Participants interact with military personnel for purpose of exploring careers and observing real-world STEM applications. The program exposes students to the technical facets of the U.S. military’s mission, and is hosted by National Guard, Marine, Air Force Reserve, Army, and Air Force bases across the U.S.

Speaking to the subject of the STARBASE program’s potential benefit to NAWCAD LKE, Oliveira remarked: “Especially locally, it’s an introduction to Lakehurst. A lot of them [students] don’t necessarily know about the work we do here. So, by volunteering and going into the schools, we can tell them this is the work we do at Lakehurst. And since they are local, we tell them about our education, where we went to college, and job opportunities they could have. I know they’re still young, but you want to reach them at a young age to show them that if they do consider STEM fields, they would have job opportunities right in their own backyard.”

FMI: www.dodstarbase.org 

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