Science and Technology News

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gearing up for STEM Rocks!

by 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

8/18/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Schriever kids can be rock stars this month; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics rock stars that is.

STEM Rocks!, a festival that celebrates and increases interest in STEM fields, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Peterson Air and Space Museum.

Attendees will be able to participate in various activities related to the technical fields of STEM while having fun in a family-friendly environment.

"Essentially, STEM programs are important for our children and the younger generation," said Capt. Leilani Distaso, National Security Space Institute Space 200 assistant course director and military lead for the event. "This event is meant to reinforce interest in STEM related fields."

The event is for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade and their families.

This will be the fourth year STEM Rocks! has been held at Peterson Air Force Base. Alongside the military organizers for the event, additional partners and sponsors for STEM Rocks! are the Peterson Air and Space Museum and the Challenger Learning Center.

Distaso explained this year's event should be bigger and better than ever.

"I'm excited to have a huge turnout," she said. "This is for the community. [The event] was previously held at Buckley Air Force Base, but since we have a larger pool of military in the area, we generally have more participants."

There will be approximately 25 exhibits from agencies off and on base. Some of the many activities include crawl-through caves, rocket launching, underwater rovers, hurricane simulators, glider building, dinosaur investigations, interacting with wild animals and exploring with Legos®.

"[Kids] can look forward to hands-on activities like building rockets, working under water rovers and Explosive Ordnance Disposal demonstrations where they can drive the actual robot," said Tech. Sgt. James Mikkelsen, Space 200 flight chief.

Free giveaways will also be available along with the learning experience, Distaso said.

"Along with the free goodies (such as a free shirt), kids will be able to go through every single booth and learn about new things," said Distaso. "Some unique exhibits include magic shows from the United States Air Force Academy STEM team, a Security Forces K-9 exhibit and a USAFA jazz band ensemble."

Additionally, agencies from the local community, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will set up their own specific booths for kids.

"I am excited to have all the great organizations coming back once again this year to provide the hands-on STEM experience to our school-aged kids," said Mikkelson.
Distaso explained the event is completely free to military families and wanted to encourage volunteers from Schriever to participate.

"We need volunteers for each of the days, especially the day of [the event]," she said. "Space operators would be a great help. Kids will ask questions and they would be able to answer it. They'll get a great thrill out of it."

Volunteers can help set up Aug. 28, the day before the main event, as well Aug. 29. Volunteers for the day of event will receive a free t-shirt.

STEM Rocks! is a free event, open to all Department of Defense ID card holders. For more information about the event or volunteer opportunities, call 719-556-4228.

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