Department of Defense Education Activity

SPARKing interest in STEM

For Immediate Release — October 14, 2022 | Pacific

SPARKStem

At SPARK! students had the opportunity to attend college and career workshops from current researchers and STEM professionals from the Army Corp of Engineers, Kadena Medical Facility, USN Hospital Okinawa, and various research universities in the US.

OKINAWA, PACIFIC — October 14, 2022 — More than 125 high school students across DoDEA Pacific recently participated in the first-ever STEM Program Advancing Research Knowledge (SPARK!)

SPARK! is a program partially funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) whose purpose is to effectively engage, inspire, and attract the next generation of STEM talent and expose them to Department of Defense STEM careers. At SPARK! students had the opportunity to attend college and career workshops from current researchers and STEM professionals from the Army Corp of Engineers, Kadena Medical Facility, USN Hospital Okinawa, and various research universities in the US.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Anastasia Anderson, 11th grade student at E.J. King Middle High School. “If I could do it again and learn more information about topics I never thought I would be interested in, then I most definitely would. Highly recommend to fellow students across the Pacific to join in on this amazing event because there is always something new to explore and enjoy!”

SPARK! Is a recent rebrand of STEMinars, which also brought guests from all over the world together virtually to participate in a hybrid event.

SPARK! will serve as an annual fall event in the Pacific and is designed to develop student interest in the Spring Pacific Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). At SPARK! students gain hands-on experience with research tools and receive training on collecting data and preparing possible research questions for JSHS.

“It helps to prepare students for upcoming events and ignites a desire to further education in the STEM fields,” said Ella Sims, senior at Daegu Middle High School. “I thoroughly enjoyed this event.”

STEM guest presenter and former DoDEA Pacific student, LCDR Christina Collazo, Doctor of Nursing Practice, USNH Okinawa, said participating in the event was an amazing experience.

“There was so much enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about STEM that I realized we, as STEM experts, have so much to share with students,” LCDR Collazo said. “With the COVID pandemic, we lost a lot of that ability to deeply engage in STEM and it’s so important to get back into the rhythm of partnership with the schools. We use these opportunities to share our knowledge and experiences to further empower students.”

Students will work on their research projects until January, hoping to earn a spot to showcase their work at DoDEA Pacific JSHS in Okinawa, Japan in March.