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MCSC introduces students to STEM possibilities

By Kristen Murphy, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command | July 5, 2018


More than 40 students from Quantico Middle/High School participated in the 8th annual Quantico Summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—or STEM—Academy June 25-29 aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The camp, hosted through a partnership between the school and Marine Corps Systems Command, gave sixth through eighth graders the opportunity to get hands-on experience through various STEM challenges.  

“Marine Corps Systems Command’s engineering competency champions multiple STEM events throughout the year, but this one is on our very own base at Quantico,” said Karrin Felton, engineering competency manager at MCSC and the organizer of this year’s event. “It’s important because we have very bright students here at QMHS who may want to go into STEM fields. We can’t start too early introducing them to the possibilities of STEM.”

Teachers from QMHS and engineers from MCSC served as mentors to the students throughout the week, assisting with team projects and competitions. 

“My favorite part of this event has been helping the kids build a robot and program it,” said Binh Nguyen, a computer science engineer at MCSC and STEM camp mentor.

The students completed several activities including building a weight-bearing bridge using only three materials; a tower using spaghetti and marshmallows and a LEGO® robot that can complete various challenges. They also designed a boat out of aluminum foil that can remain buoyant while bearing weight; erected an earthquake-proof tower out of five materials; and built a rocket out of plastic bottles filled with water.   

“The hope is we get some of our students interested in STEM and that transitions into the school year,” said Michael A. Johnson, QMHS principal. “We also coordinate with [other] STEM partners to have follow-on activities throughout the school year to keep the fire burning.” 

While many of the students are getting their first taste of STEM, others already have career aspirations in these fields.

“I like coming to these because I really love STEM,” said one rising seventh grader. “It combines two of my favorite things: LEGOs and coding. I’d like to be a coder when I grow up.”