NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Seventy-five students arrived for the week-long Starship Poseidon STEM 2015 camp at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, July 6.
The overnight event is an Office of Naval Research (ONR) funded, Naval War College (NWC) sponsored, and NAVSTA Newport hosted Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Camp taking place, July 5-10, at Officer Training Command on the installation.
"It's been awesome, I've learned a lot about what it's like to be an engineer," said Evelyn Martinez, a sophomore at Attleboro High School.
The campers came from throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusets, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Texas.
Joseph Merkel, the only student from the Lone Star State, heard about the program from a math teacher at the Jesuit College Prep of Dallas and applied.
"I want to be an engineer and join the Navy so I took the opportunity to come," Merkel said, following his presentation on some of the challenges his team faced while building and testing their Sea Perch submersible robot."
Professor William Bundy, chair of the NWC Warfare Analysis and Research Department, and director of the Gravely Research Group, was the driving force behind securing funding to run a camp this year.
He hit the ground running dusting off the model used to execute a similar ONR funded camp he initiated in 2012 with a different group of volunteers.
Bundy's committee this year included local educators, STEM advocacy groups, the Rhode Island STEM Center, and Navy staffers led by Cmdr. Keith Patton.
"We were focused on how to design the camp to give students maximum exposure to many different aspects of STEM," Bundy said during a tour of the STEM projects in Perry Hall, Callaghan Hall and out on Nimitz Field.
Projects included how to make potable water; using geospatial mapping technology; designing bridges; use of biomedicine and science in the fight against disease; the Sea Perch and the Trebuchet (a catapult-like device).
"Biomedicine class has been the highlight for us," said Mira DiSilvestro, from The Prout School in Wakefield, Rhode Island, while gesturing towards her project partner, Sydney Anderson, from Exeter-West Greenwich High School in Rhode Island.
"The discussions about diseases and infections that have global impacts and how we can use technology to combat them have been interesting," she went on to say while holding onto a Play-Doh brain that was eery in its realism.
Aside from classroom instruction and experimentation, camp participants had ample time to find new friends and gain exposure to a new lifestyle while living communally onboard an active Navy installation.
They dined each meal in the 5-Star Ney Hall Galley alongside future officers assigned to Officer Candidate School, Officer Development School, Senior Enlisted Academy personnel, and Sailors and Marines from throughout the installation.
They took field trips that included an afternoon at Battleship Cove Naval Heritage Museum, Fall River, Massachusets, where the military staff and volunteers divided into groups and toured the ships and submarine to discuss the applications of technology throughout the vessels.
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Division Newport; Surface Warfare Officers School Command; Naval Health Clinic New England; and Naval Submarine Base New London, hosted the campers at their facilities to show off some of their high-tech laboratories, training equipment, and submarines.
The campers interacted with young DoD military and civilian engineers on different aspects of science.
"We also provided opportunities during the evening hours for the students to learn how to get from where they are now through college. We wanted to educate students on how to apply for college and recognize that STEM education is not out of reach," Bundy said.
"We want to expose them to Navy and Navy Sea Systems Command opportunities, expose them to various college opportunities and encourage them to pursue STEM education," he said.
Capt. Dennis R. D. Boyer, commanding officer of Naval Station Newport, made a point of stopping in to meet the future young professionals during a visit to the STEM project session where he was provided briefings from individual group leaders on their projects.
Boyer, a submarine officer and former commander of the USS Miami, delighted in the opportunity to talk thermodynamics, buoyancy, and the like with the young scientists.
"These kids are amazing. They are discussing science and concepts that were light-years ahead of what I was engaged in at their ages," Boyer said.
The Navy is a DoD leader in promoting STEM education through outreach projects in many schools and this camp is an excellent example of how the Navy is assisting the community in fostering a desire to pursue a career in a STEM related field.
The true dividends of this program may not be paid out for years to come but by the enthusiastic comments of the campers, the cost was well worth the investment.
For more information on the Navy and STEM careers, go to www.navy.com/stem.