By 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Schriever Air Force Base School Age Program students launched water rockets, constructed mousetrap cars and blew-up watermelons at a science, technology, engineering and mathematics night Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in the Schriever Child Development Center.
The free STEM night was sponsored by a partnership of AmeriCorps, a national and community service organization, and the Colorado chapter of 4-H, a youth development organization.
According to their website, www.4-h.org/grows/, “4-H grows confident, capable and caring kids with the life skills to thrive in today’s world and succeed in their boldest dreams for tomorrow. Working in partnership with 110 universities, 4-H programs are research-backed and offer life-changing experiences to youth around the world.”
Schriever AFB volunteers rallied together to put on the free STEM night working different stations, each featuring different experiments for children ages five to 12-years-old.
“We are kicking off our new 4-H STEM club at the Schriever School Age Program,” said Vanessa Tranel, 4-H military liaison. “4-H has recently gotten a grant from AmeriCorps to do some extra youth STEM programming so we’re doing STEM clubs at Schriever and Peterson Air Forces Bases as well as the Air Force Academy. This was our big kick-off for Schriever.”
The family STEM night allowed kids to freely roam through the CDC and engage in experiments that exposed them to STEM career fields.
“STEM is very important because we know that in our society today in the United States, we do not have enough young people interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Tranel. “There’s a real shortage of people going into those fields so our goal in 4-H and working with the military is to encourage kids to be interested in those things and maybe explore them as careers.”
Vicki Rygiel, Schriever School Age Program coordinator, explained the importance of inviting a diverse group of volunteers from Schriever to help assist the youth with experiments.
“We had a lot of female and male Airmen showing them that they like science,” said Rygiel. “We have a career day every Friday where people come in to talk about their careers. We have females and males to show the kids they can be whatever they want to be, but the key is to give them the educational tools to understand what different options they have.”
Staff Sgt. Janina Watson, 50th Force Support Squadron Installation Personnel Readiness non-commissioned officer in charge, shared that she enjoyed volunteering for the “Balloon Zoom” rocket experiment.
“I loved it. They have so much fun and excitement, so it was really cool just watching them experiencing that,” said Watson.
Rygiel gave credit to Regina Lee, a SAP assistant and an AmeriCorps member, who worked with Tranel to organize the event.
“Regina Lee did a great job, she worked really hard to put this together,” said Rygiel. “Our staff supported her and helped her pull all these projects together. I’m just really impressed with how well it turned out.”
The organizations plan on hosting another STEM event Dec. 29 at the Tierra Vista Community Center for kids during winter break.
For more information, contact Rygiel at 567-4742.