by Margaret Gotheridge, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs
SCHWEINFURT, Germany | March 21, 2013
Math and science aren't just taught out of textbooks for students at the middle school here. That's because Soldiers assigned to the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion brought the subjects to life in an effort to give a boost to a DoDEA initiative aimed at invigorating science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the class room.
STEM is a Department of Defense education program intended to build a workforce more competent in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
We as a nation depend upon the wealth of experience and expertise from these different dimensions and domains of learning, said the Director of Department of Defense Education Activity, Marilee Fitzgerald, in a Nov. 6, 2012, radio broadcast.
"We have to begin to build this capacity in our schools," said Fitzgerald. "We are being out-paced by other nations. DODEA is trying to address this problem in our schools."
One way Schweinfurt Elementary/Middle School is integrating the STEM initiative is pairing students with subject matter experts — like the Soldiers from the 72nd ESB. These Soldiers are specifically trained in STEM, such as in information technology and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, more commonly known as CBRN-E.
From March 19-20 students in grades four through eight got hands-on seminars and demonstrations in communications, engineering, chemistry, physical education and nutrition.
Soldiers trained in information technology, for example, demonstrated how signals travel thousands of miles in a matter of seconds.
Soldiers knowledgeable in CBRN-E guided students on common chemicals found in their households and quizzed them on how to safely handle hazardous materials.
Students also learned how Soldiers prepare themselves to be ready and resilient in order to perform at a higher standard in their job. The students had to participate in several fitness activities that included sprints, crouched runs and to prevent injuries stretches.
"We are all about building a strong community," said 72nd ESB Commander, Lt. Col. Neil K. Khatod. "A healthy lifestyle means that you will sleep better, grow stronger and be a more effective student."
The subject of nutrition was also covered. Students came to understand how substances like sugar in foods affect the body, how these sugars are measured and what healthy alternatives to sugar rich snacks are available.
"There are many careers in the health field which work closely with math, technology and engineering," said Nancy Dauber, a teacher at the middle school and one of the event coordinators. "Math is used in analyzing diets, medication and temperature. Health and nutrition careers are using more and more technology in their areas."
Soldiers with the 72nd ESB and teachers, Schweinfurt students were able to see how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are used in our community.
"I am hoping that student's take away some ideas about possible careers in science, technology, health and nutrition," said Dauber. "I hope that they realize that what they are doing in math, science and technology classes have many applications in the real world."
Schweinfurt Elementary/Middle School offers STEM classes to students in the seventh and eighth grades. Classes include science applications, computer applications, graphic communications and video communications.