STEM Camp excites children through science
By Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 05, 2016
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley Air Force Base joined together with the local community to host the first annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Camp March 31 and April 1.
The event was an example of one of numerous actions taken toward the Public-Public; Public-Private, or P-4, initiative. The initiative offers a means to leverage the capabilities and resources of military installations, local governments or commercial entities to reduce operating costs and the cost of services while retaining or enhancing quality.
"The Air Force asked all the bases to work with their local communities to see how we can do business together and cut costs," said Thomas Cox, 460th Force Support Squadron liaison officer.
The development of a base STEM program to meet an education initiative has been in the works for the past few years. However, the original plans for the camp were very costly, making it counterintuitive.
Organizers went back to the drawing board to come up with a camp that was monetarily acceptable and logistically feasible for both on-base and off-base children.
"We put together a much more modified, less elaborate program from the original program they were considering," Cox said. "We knew this was a pilot program and we just wanted to see how it would work."
Cox reached out to local schools to see who had interest in partnering with Buckley AFB to provide a camp for children interested in learning more about STEM.
"I got overwhelmed with responses," Cox said. "I could easily have a hundred kids in this class if we had room for it."
For the inaugural camp, 25 children were selected to participate. The camp was staffed by members from Colorado State University that had experience teaching elementary-aged children.
"Our reason for existence is to serve the community," Timothy Aston, director of Arapahoe CSU extension said. "We put community-based programs together to showcase the capabilities of the university."
The camp consisted of four two-hour classes that included rocketry, robotics, energy and animal science. Each class was designed to use elements of scientific elements in order to complete team based objectives.
During the rocketry course, the children learned the importance of aero-dynamics in flight and were able to test out the rockets they built by launching them from a platform made from PVC piping and a two liter bottle, which provided air as the propulsion.
For the robotics class, children separated into several teams. Their objective was to clean-up a simulated oil spill with a number of resources provided to them. Each objective attempted by the children was judged and graded to determine which team performed the best at each particular task.
This program has received a lot of attention from Aurora, Colorado community leaders as well as local school districts and consideration for a summer camp has already been brought up, Cox explained.
Cox understands that baby steps need to be taken since this is the first STEM camp held by Buckley AFB in conjunction with community organizations, but from the responses he has received, the future looks bright for this P-4 initiative.