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NAWCAD Lakehurst partners with NJ middle school to spark student interest in STEM

Lakewood Middle School students complete a robotics "Ozobots" activity with the assistance of NAWCAD Lakehurst personnel during a site visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. June 6. (U.S. Navy photo)

Lakewood Middle School students complete a robotics "Ozobots" activity with the assistance of NAWCAD Lakehurst personnel during a site visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. June 6. (U.S. Navy photo)

Jun 14, 2018

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Lakewood Middle School students take the controls of robotic prototypes during a demo inside the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) Lab at NAWCAD Lakehurst, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. June 6. (U.S. Navy photo)

Lakewood Middle School students take the controls of robotic prototypes during a demo inside the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) L ...

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst has partnered with Lakewood Middle School in Lakewood, New Jersey to increase middle school student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.

With the support of the NAWCAD Lakehurst Diversity Advisory Roundtable Team (DART), the African-American Pipelines Advisory Team (APAT) started an after-school tutoring program earlier this year in which NAWCAD Lakehurst volunteers help 6th-7th graders with their STEM-related homework once a week.

“They are our future and they’re really motivated, still impressionable and still excited,” said Emberle Pearson, APAT team member who helped organize the partnership. “A lot of times we reach out to closer schools, but we’re really trying to target diverse schools, underprivileged districts, and give them access to the programs here.”

Students who are part of the tutoring program were invited to participate in a site visit sponsored by the NAWCAD Lakehurst Education Outreach Office June 6 to learn more about the opportunities available to them working in STEM at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

“This visit gave them an opportunity to see the work we do here at NAWCAD Lakehurst so that they can think, explore and build their confidence to pursue careers they may not have thought about before,” said Haidy Oliveira, NAWCAD Lakehurst Education Outreach Office representative.

Students toured working labs in robotics, materials engineering, night vision technology and more. They also learned about NAWCAD Lakehurst’s mission in Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) and Support Equipment (SE).

“I think it’s pretty cool you get to see what’s behind all of the airplanes,” said one of the students on the tour. “I would see them on top of my house fly by, and now you get to see the science behind it. It’s really cool.”

The partnership with Lakewood Middle School has been in the works for two years to not only increase local student interest in STEM careers but to also increase diversity in the STEM fields, said Pearson.

The school’s 8th graders have since joined in as tutors to the younger students, opening up mentoring opportunities with the NAWCAD Lakehurst workforce.

“We offer a lot of internship programs, so it’s something that they can connect with one of these engineers here if that’s something they want to pursue,” said Michael Nguyen, NAWCAD Lakehurst employee and tutor.

“I was super excited about the idea of a partnership,” said Deborah Rolston, Lakewood Middle School vice principal. “There’s the academic support, which they need. But it’s really just meeting community members, seeing some familiar faces that are offering them options for their future, like ‘Hey here’s something that you might be interested in or that you could try’ because at this age they don’t know career options.”

The team plans to gather feedback at the end of the school year in order to improve next year’s program and will continue to look for more ways to engage the students in STEM, said Pearson.

NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs
(732) 323-2811

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Lakewood Middle School students tour the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society Heritage Center during a site visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. June 6. (U.S. Navy photo)

Lakewood Middle School students tour the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society Heritage Center during a site visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N. ...

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