Photo Information

Marine Corps Systems Command held its 11th annual Summer STEM Camp program June 21-24 at Quantico Middle/High School in Virginia. Funding for the camp is provided by the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Coordination Office.

Photo by Tyler Mann

Quantico Middle/High School Students explore Alternative Energy Sources during Summer STEM Camp Program

5 Jul 2022 | Erica Terrini, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

Marine Corps Systems Command held its 11th annual Summer STEM Camp program June 21-24 at Quantico Middle/High School in Virginia. Funding for the camp is provided by the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Coordination Office. Seventeen volunteer mentors from the MCSC and Program Executive Officer workforce teamed up with 13 QMHS teachers and one junior mentor to work with the 54 sixth- through ninth-grade camp participants. Together, they explored this year’s STEM Camp theme: Alternative Energy Sources.

According to MCSC engineering competency manager and Federal STEM action officer Joy Champion, the summer camp is not only a chance for students to learn and develop a passion for all things STEM but also for teachers and mentors to provide guidance on these subjects that drive technology for the world.

“Getting the youth engaged, sparking interest with fun activities and getting them to realize that they are helping to solve a problem and then becoming the future engineers and leaders of our country is absolutely inspiring,” Champion said. “That's why I do it. I love it. I'm a huge STEM advocate. I'm glad to see future STEM professionals thrive.”

Champion said this year’s theme was selected because of its rapid evolvement in recent years and its continuing progression.
“Alternative energy is something that we don't often think about because we think that energy sources are always going to be there,” Champion said. “I think it is great to pique the interest of these young kids about ways that they can help preserve the earth, preserve energy and find inventive ways to do things they already do.”

Over the course of four days, students learned about various energy sources, including solar-, hydro- and wind-power. The combined MCSC and PEO team also taught attendees about aerospace engineering, chemical engineering and analytical chemistry.
Brad Cobb, director of systems engineering for MCSC, said focusing on today’s alternative energy sources reflects how our society is moving forward and steering away its heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

“Merely looking at any one alternative energy source is not enough,” said Cobb. ”Looking across the board at whatever we can obtain or create from wind, solar, alternative fuels, nuclear or whatever it might be will help us thrive. Getting these students involved at a young age helps them understand that it's not just a work field, it's a fun field.”

Throughout the week, students participated in team projects such as constructing racing cars and using balloons as carrying devices for paperclips. Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy also visited the camp to lead students in a biofuels activity. During the activity, students created a bioreactor for yeast fermentation of sugar to produce ethanol, said USNA Associate Director for STEM Center for Education and Outreach Sarah Durkin. The opportunity, she said, enabled students to apply science and engineering practices while exploring the use of biotechnology to produce renewable energy.

Mark Jackson, director of engineering at MCSC, said the STEM Camp is not only a great opportunity for students to develop their skills in the STEM fields but also provides teachers and mentors the chance to share their experiences and knowledge with younger generations.
“As a STEM professional, I am aware that everybody or a lot of people have mentors or examples in their life of people that had STEM careers or things that piqued their interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” Jackson said. “I always look for ways to give back to the kids or find ways to introduce those activities to other students because I do think STEM is so important and I think it's a lot of fun for the kids and it is equally as fun for me and other STEM professionals.”

Cobb reiterated Jackson’s sentiment, noting that both the teachers and mentors acting as team leads for students and as Subject Material Experts for systems in the realms of science and engineering helps foster the next wave of STEM experts and innovative designs that will propel societies forward.

“Outreach to individuals and younger generations is the next step to advancing technology—to foster improvement,” Jackson said. “It is our calling and responsibility to help them know that STEM is not just a career, it's a fun line of work and it's also an important undertaking as we head toward the future.”

On the final day of the summer camp program, June 24, participants reflected on their experiences and lessons learned revolving around this year’s theme and heard from MCSC Commander Brig. Gen. David Walsh.

“There are so many opportunities that await you as you continue to grow and bolster your STEM education and get more involved,” said Walsh. “Even if you don't want to work with the government or the Marine Corps, you can be the person behind the company or companies that build systems to help them advance and succeed. The world needs STEM students to continue to grow and design.”


More Media

Tags
Marine Corps Systems Command