NAVAIR

Warfare centers band together for STEM challenge

Students from Rio Vista Middle School in Oxnard, California, react as their spaghetti bridgehead takes on more weight during the Tri-Warfare Center Middle School Challenge at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Feb. 22. Rio Vista took second place in the event, which challenged students to build bridgeheads that would bear the most weight in comparison to the weight of the bridgehead itself. (U.S. Navy photo)

Students from Rio Vista Middle School in Oxnard, California, react as their spaghetti bridgehead takes on more weight during the Tri-Warfare Center Middle School Challenge at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Feb. 22. Rio Vista took second place in the event, which challenged students to build bridgeheads that would bear the most weight in comparison to the weight of the bridgehead itself. (U.S. Navy photo)

Feb 27, 2018

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NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION, POINT MUGU, Calif. - Teams of students from 18 schools across Ventura County descended upon Point Mugu for the Tri-Warfare Center Middle School Challenge held Feb. 22.

The challenge? Build a bridgehead out of spaghetti, epoxy, and your own engineering know-how.

Students, their teachers, and mentors from Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division, and Naval Facilities Command Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center had two hours to design, build, and test their creations before judging. The bridge with the highest weight-to-load-bearing ratio would be declared the winner.

“So, a lighter construction bearing less total weight would fare better than a heavy bridgehead that carried more weight,” said Dr. Ramon Flores, STEM coordinator for NSWC PHD and the event’s MC.

In previous years, NSWC PHD ran the middle school challenge on its own. This year marked the first time all three warfare centers joined forces, allowing them to host a greater number of students.

It was also the first year spaghetti was involved. At previous events, students built miniature missile launchers out of common office and household supplies.

Dr. Greg Wood, associate professor of physics at California State University Channel Islands, was the event’s resident spaghetti bridge building expert.

“We do this with high school kids as part of a longer STEM-focused series of projects,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve worked with middle school students, and in just two hours! It’s a little crazy, but fun.”

Teams also took time to tour NAWCWD facilities, getting a chance to see an EA-18G Growler and its predecessor the EA-6B Prowler up close as well as talk with engineers who entered the workforce through STEM-related programs. Students also spent time checking out targets and simulator systems.

Cmdr. David Lievanos, NAWCWD’s military deputy for Threat/Target Systems Department, joined military representatives from the other warfare centers in closing out the day and helping hand out awards.

“You are the future,” he said, addressing the students prior to the awards ceremony. “Your generation will be what allows our nation to dominate on the battlefield, in the air, and on the sea. Stay smart, never give up, and always play to win.”

Winning teams were:  1st place – Las Colinas Middle School; 2nd place – Rio Vista Middle School; 3rd place – Charles F. Blackstock Junior High School.

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4 Comments, Please review our Feedback Guidelines.


Admirer said

Building with spaghetti noodles is not an easy task. It's hard.


February 27, 2018 at 11:44:39 PM EST

STEM Mentor said

Such a fun science project. Thanks for posting, Becky


February 27, 2018 at 7:39:46 PM EST

Meatballs said

That definitely seems like such a challenging task for middle school students.


February 27, 2018 at 7:37:27 PM EST

STEM Teacher said

Great way to demonstrate STEM to local students. Such a great way to encourage learning technical fields to students of diverse backgrounds.


February 27, 2018 at 7:16:05 PM EST


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