Students from local summer camp and home school programs took a field trip June 20 to the historic Cooper House in downtown Huntsville to attend the Tennessee Valley Jazz Society’s first Science and Arts Symposium. They got to meet scientists, engineers, mathematicians and even an artist or two.
The Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center and the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville collaborated on this science, technology, engineering, math and arts education outreach event, providing mentors and judges for the science and technology competition.
The experience gave students a clearer picture of what skills are needed to work in careers, particularly in the fields of science, technology and mathematics. It also gave them a chance to learn about what it takes to one day become an Army civilian.
Also participating as mentors or judges at the symposium were AMRDEC employees Ekundayo “Dayo” Lewis, systems engineer, and Cheryl Gittens, educational outreach coordinator; Alyson Garnes, engineering student; Faith Ryder, engineering student and Huntsville Center employee; and Atidya Williams, a work force development specialist in the center’s Business Management Office.
Dr. Patrick Taylor, an electrical engineer in AMRDEC’s Propulsion Technology, Weapons Development and Integration Directorate, took lead on the science and technology competition, providing hands-on mentoring for students who are a part of the Madison County 4-H Robotics Club.
“Why do you think your robot doesn’t run as fast as you’d like, and how can you improve its functionality?” Taylor asked.
“Walk us through your process and we’ll help you fix this problem. We solve issues like this in our lab every day.”
Howard Bankhead, director of the Tennessee Valley Jazz Society’s Youth Life Development Program organized the event as part of the weeklong 2013 Jazz-N-June Festival.
Bankhead said the purpose of having a Science and Arts Symposium is to help kids work on character development and provide them an introduction to STEM and art careers by individuals who are working in these fields.
Team Redstone organizations were invited to participate in the event to showcase their education initiatives.
Over the course of three hours, students were immersed in art, music and science, taking part in art activities, robotics and science demonstrations, and watching a live jazz ensemble performance.
Bankhead said historically, the summer is a somewhat dormant period for education, making it a perfect time for Jazz-N-June to offer fun and enjoyable educational opportunities. His goal for the event is to help students stay focused. He said he is pleased with the participation from Team Redstone volunteers.
“The Jazz Festival’s major thrust is now youth development, and we believe that giving our youth more opportunities to experience wholesome and educational activities will promote a positive change in their character development,” he said.
“Today the students met actual scientists, engineers and artists who are showcasing their respective talents, skills and crafts. Every child in attendance had an opportunity to learn something new about science and art. It’s a win for everyone involved.”