NORCO, Calif. (NNS) -- More than 700 people from visited Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona, Calif., Nov. 6, to celebrate the christening of the future USS California (SSN 781) and launch the "USS California Science Experience," a series of exhibits promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The three-city "USS California Science Experience" tour heads to the Admiral Kidd Conference Center in San Diego Nov. 15 and the California Science Center in Los Angeles Nov. 18 and follows a series of events across the nation the Navy is using to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers.
"We're honored to host this public event for Californians as the Navy christens the first submarine for our state," said NSWC Corona Commanding Officer Capt. Jay Kadowaki. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our fellow residents to celebrate this historic occasion and an even greater opportunity for our young students to learn about the technologically advanced world that awaits them."
The christening celebration featured a live streaming simulcast of the ceremony from Newport News, Va., and a four-hour science program that was a key educational opportunity for hundreds of grade-school students who learned about submarines, science, robotics and other technological wonders. Teams of students also vied for honors in the first-ever Mission Ocean Challenge.
Natalie Teague, 10, of Corona, played with the remote controls of a miniature SeaPerch submarine, swirling, diving and climbing inside a 12-foot plastic swimming pool with the guidance of Naval Academy midshipman Jennifer Nielsen and Ensign Natalya Aoki, a recent academy graduate. SeaPerch is a STEM outreach program that teaches students how to work as a team to build a propulsion system, develop a controller, investigate weight and buoyancy and investigate other naval engineering principles.
"This is so awesome!" Teague marveled, adding she'd love one of her own.
A signature feature of the "USS California Science Experience" was the Navy-sponsored Mission Ocean Challenge, a program where students learn about and use the various scientific principles needed to guide a submarine to find an underwater volcano in a simulated 3-D environment. The curriculum is a highly effective tool to increase performance in math and science skills. According to Purdue University's Center for Science and Technology Education, who developed the curriculum, students who have already used the curriculum have seen test scores in math and science increase by 30 to 40 percent, respectively, and in social studies by more than 20 percent.
With just a few weeks to practice for what is a nine-week intensive or even year-long training, every one of the California teams, two of which were Girl Scouts, broke the best record to date, set by a St. Louis high school team in summer 2010. The winning team from Riverside, Calif.'s Matthew Gage Middle School shattered the record by nearly half, coming in at six minutes, 44 seconds.
Kadowaki told students and parents at the closing ceremony that it was rewarding for him to see the enthusiasm and interest of so many young people learning about science and technology.
"We are exceptionally excited to host this event today," said Kadowaki. "Our future depends on events like these."
NSWC Corona, a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) field activity, serves as the Navy's independent assessment agent and is responsible for gauging the warfighting capability of weapons and integrated combat systems, through assessment of systems' performance, readiness, quality, supportability and the adequacy of training. The science and engineering command actively participates in and supports a variety of programs that encourage students of all ages to pursue STEM careers.
For more news from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, visit www.navy.mil/local/nswccorona/.