HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Local youth, ages 14-15, participated in a STEM-focused, hands-on LEGACY Craftsman Camp here last week designed to excite them about math and science while introducing them to future Air Force careers.
The 14-year-old students built self-controlled Sumo robots while the 15-year-old group focused on projects using a series of small, single-board Raspberry Pi computers.
“Everything they did was STEM related and designed to be fun,” said Mark Erickson, Hill’s STEM Outreach program manager. “The biggest thing is to inspire youth to see that STEM is fun and can be applied to fun activities.”
Jessica Neidigh, Wright-Patterson AFB STEM deputy team lead, assisted with the camp and said she loves seeing the excitement in the student’s face at camp when they figure something out.
“I think it’s so cool how we’re making technology and learning accessible at a young age,” she said. “There’s a variety of resources available and the world opens when they keep their eyes open. We’re just here to help them with that.”
These camps, which also happen at Wright-Patterson AFB, Eglin AFB, the Air Force Academy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research help reinforcing self-confidence and build leadership skills that students can use regardless of their future career choice.
Erickson said he hopes that students will pursue a path toward the Air Force, and attending a camp like this gives them opportunities that they may not have realized.
“Everything I do in relation to STEM is for kids to realize that it’s fun and that they can do it,” he said “This program gives them an avenue to accomplish those things.”