NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors partnered with Campostella Elementary School Jan. 21, to help judge a science fair at the Norfolk area school.
More than 100 students, spanning five grades, submitted projects to be evaluated by the guest judges.
"When we first told the kids that the Navy would be judging them they were extremely excited," said Wartika Scott, Campostella Elementary School lead science teacher. "Then they started thinking about what to ask the Navy and what they were going to be asked, and started to get nervous; it was pretty fun to watch. You could tell that is was important to them."
The Navy was equally as excited to meet the students.
"It's important for us to give back to the community in different ways," said Yeoman 1st Class (AW/SW) Nicole Oliver. "We need to be out their motivating and guiding our future leaders, and events like this are ways we can help to do that."
The judges engaged the students with questions about their projects and graded them based on creativity, knowledge and the scientific process.
"I was really looking for creativity and if the student did the majority or all of it on their own," said Oliver. "I wanted them to be able to walk me through their projects, and show me the effort they put into learning them."
Oliver said the students did not disappoint her.
"I was really impressed with all of the projects," said Oliver. "They were really well thought out, and I could tell the kids knew what they were talking about and were really learning."
In October 2010, the school decided to make some big changes to help the students excel at a science fair.
"We became a science, technology, engineering and mathematics school, or STEM school for short," said Laguma Foster, Campostella Elementary School principal. "It's a program designed to introduce the technical fields earlier to children."
Normally, students wouldn't be exposed to these kinds of lessons and classes until sixth-grade. Foster said that is too late in many cases.
The schools hallways are now lined with posters from each class' science experiments. There is a garden out back with plans for a greenhouse in the summer. The school has gone "green" and cut back on waste.
"The kids are really responding to the changes," said Nila Nash-Jackson, a science lab teacher. "You can really see that they are interested in what we are teaching them. It's great to see that a lot of them now dream of going into a STEM career field. That's what the program is designed to do. To show kids that there are other options out there. It's the wave of the future."
"What the Navy has done is provide the end result of careers," said Foster. "Especially in the math, science, engineering and technology fields. It's great for us to have the Navy here so often to show the children one of the great options the STEM path affords them."
Foster said the partnership between Campostella and the Navy is one that is built to last.
"The Navy has assisted us not only on a daily bases but during special events," said Foster. "Routinely and annually the Navy has been here 100 percent."
For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.