While many teens spent their fall break enjoying time away from the classroom and learning, others decided to use their time away from school broadening their horizons by learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts.
The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville welcomed more than 30 teens and staff from the Redstone Youth Center Oct. 6, for a presentation and inter-active learning on STEM principles.
During the visit, the teens met several Huntsville Center engineers who explained how the STEM program would benefit future generations.
“The world is getting a lot bigger and our resources are becoming more constrained so we need to be more efficient,” said Brian Spear, a civil engineer with the Engineering Directorate’s Site Development Branch.
Spear explained how the Center’s equipment helps engineers complete the Corps’ mission to improve efficiency. One piece of equipment, the infrared camera, allowed the teens to detect and visualize thermal variances throughout the room.
The infrared camera also helps determine the energy efficiency of a building by locating points of heat loss coming from a structure, Spear said.
“You can also use this for search and rescue. A lot of first responders have this technology,” he added. “You can use it for wildlife management … so, if you need to count the number of deer in the woods to make sure there is a healthy population you can do that, as well.”
Another piece of equipment the teens were able to see and learn about were small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or quadcopters.
“We have three small UASs out for you to look at today. The last one on the table has been specially modified for us,” Spear told the teens. The modified UAS is fitted with two cameras, one of which is an infrared camera that can be used to support energy studies.
After learning about the various equipment used by the Center’s engineers, Brian Hamilton, a civil engineer with the Engineering Directorate’s Site Development Branch, showed the teens a video of the UAS flying over tank ranges at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Stewart, Georgia.
“We can’t take pictures of this range from the ground because it is too big. From left to right its 1,000 yards wide and 28 football fields long from end to end,” Hamilton told the teens.
The pictures and video obtained with the sUAS help the engineers to document the features of a site and to construct a 3D model of the site using specialized software.
At the end of the presentation, the teens rotated through four stations set up by the engineers. These stations each had critical thinking puzzles the teens needed to solve. By participating in the problem-solving puzzles, the teens had a better understanding of what it takes to have a future in a STEM career.
One technology-driven teen, Chandler Sturn, said the best part of the Huntsville Center event was getting to see how the engineers map out ranges on military installations.
He also saw the importance of STEM in the future.
“[STEM] helps me solve problems with my peers … and there will be big challenges in the future,” Sturn said. “Science will help create something to help with those problems.”
The youth center hoped the visit to the Huntsville Center would create an interest in the teens to pursue STEM programs, Boris Townsend, Redstone Youth Center youth technology leader.
"STEM is very important. We have a lot of different technology in the youth technology lab and we thought it would be a great experience for the kids,” Townsend said.