Newport, Rhode Island - Seventy-eight high school students from public, private, and charter schools in the New England area participated in U.S. Naval War College's (NWC) Starship Poseidon Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Camp, June 26 to July 1.
"This program is designed to offer students the opportunity to experience science and technology as real applications in the Navy," said Lewis Duncan, NWC provost. "The United States currently has a deficit of engineers and scientists and we need them to keep our country on the leading edge of technological progress, so programs like these are an essential investment in our shared future."
The STEM project at NWC began in 2012 with the camp's first group of just 30 students, and it has been steadily growing ever since.
"Our approach is to bring different types of students together," said William F. Bundy, NWC professor, director of the college's Gravely Naval Warfare Research Group, and program lead of the camp. "There are students with backgrounds in physics and chemistry who have taken advanced placement courses. We also bring in students who have not taken those subjects in earnest, so they can talk about STEM programs with their peers. The students encourage each other."
NWC's Cmdr. Joseph Santos, program administrator for the camp, agreed.
"Each group has an even distribution of students," Santos said. "We make sure there are a proportionate number of students of all grades, backgrounds and genders in each."
During the weeklong camp session, students participated in several interactive projects of their choice, from water filtration experiments to building hydraulic robotic arms. The events were jointly led by six active-duty military members from the NWC and seven civilian educators from various STEM professions.
The students experienced tours of facilities at Naval Station Newport, as well as field trips to the Battleship Cove Naval Heritage Museum, the New England Institute of Technology, Naval Submarine Base New London, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. During these trips, students get the opportunity to meet and pose questions to young engineers who work with technology.
"These students are being exposed to things that they've never seen before," said Santos. "You can see the incredible interest in them -- their fascination. They're energetic."
At the end of the week, each student received a certificate signifying their completion of the program. In addition, awards were given to students who displayed intellectual potential or peer-leadership.
Some students who participated in the camp have been accepted to U.S. Naval Academy and Coast Guard Academy programs.
"It's a good program in terms of exposure, and we've seen some very positive results," Bundy concluded.