West Sound STEM Showcase at the Kitsap Mall

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Vaughan Dill, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest

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SILVERDALE, Wash. – Sailors and Department of Defense civilians from Navy installations around Navy Region Northwest, teamed with several local organizations to host the 2017 West Sound STEM Showcase April 22, at the Kitsap Mall.

Each year the Showcase presents science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) principles at a fun, interactive event. The Showcase included nearly 60 booths, hosted by dozens of area organizations, showcasing hands-on activities to engage youth of all ages.

Activities and showcases include the 2017 Great West Sound Bridge Challenge, where students research, design and engineer a strong, lightweight bridge made of wooden sticks, water soluble glue and yarn. The bridges were then tested for their live load limit by adding weights to the center-most portion of the Roadway/Bridge Deck until the bridge collapses or until they ask the judges to stop adding weights. Judges calculate this with a design aesthetic score to determine the winner. Other showcase highlights included underwater vehicle exploration, robotics, rocket launches, field medicine, egg drops, animals, circuitry, X-ray technology, and more.

The event included volunteers from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), Naval Hospital Bremerton, the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum-Keyport, the Puget Sound Navy Museum, the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion-Bangor, and more, who set up booths, teaching different aspects of STEM.

“I volunteered to better the working relationship with the local community and the military,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Leah Lindsey, an event volunteer assigned to Marine Corps Security Force Battalion-Bangor. “I get two off weekends a month, so I try to volunteer on one of those two weekends every month.”

“The chaplain will put out all different types of opportunities to volunteer with the local community and we’ll just sign up for the event we want to participate,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Matthew Cox. “We help with the derby at the Rodeo, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, serving food at the food line, STEM events, anything that’s available with the local community.”

The showcase was organized by Corinne Beach, PSNS & IMF K-12 STEM outreach coordinator and Naval Sea Systems Command student engagement and outreach IBOT lead. She also coordinates dozens of other STEM events throughout the year with local schools and organizations.

“We started planning for this event last November. We start by getting the bridge challenge out to students and teachers, coordinating the call for booth hosts, I have to come to the mall and measure the spaces, and then we set up and away we go,” said Beach. “We do these events to increase awareness and child engagement in STEM with diverse opportunities. We have a lot of diverse booth hosts, everything from soccer to medical to boy scouts to robotics to erosion, and there has to be something for everybody.”

For Beach, organizing these events is about far more than just donating her time, it’s about educating children in a meaningful way through hands-on activities that have a lasting impact compared to the typical classroom setting.

“I get involved in organizing STEM events because every time children attend these events, you can see a child’s light bulb go on, you can see when they get it,” said Beach. “Instead of reading about it or having somebody tell them this is the way it works or this is how science is, when they can see it and do it, you can see that light bulb turn on and you can tell that they understand what’s happening.”

The West Sound STEM Network is a dynamic collaboration of educators, business leaders, and representatives from local government and the military, working to introduce and link students, teachers and the community to the vast array of STEM resources in the region.

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