Volunteers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District’s information management team worked with rising 5th grade students at STARBASE Academy Winchester July 16 to explore some aspects of IM careers.
Richard Hogle, chief of information management, spoke about how the Internet works and talked the students through an exercise to show how search engines work, demonstrating that different search engines can produce different results from the same search terms.
Joseph Payne, an information technology specialist, discussed cyber security and how to create strong passwords. Then he led the students through the hands-on computer programming and animation exercise.
“It was a very basic exercise where the scripts were already written, and students had to put them together to make a character dance and talk,” he said. “It was just to get them interested in what you can do with computers. I related it to the Pixar movies they like to watch, which are made with the same type of animation.”
STARBASE Academy is a Department of Defense program designed to motivate students to learn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by combining teaching with hands-on learning to spark a lasting interest in STEM subjects.Students spend a week at the academy, even in the summer, and there is a different guest speaker each week. Police officers have come in to teach the students about fingerprinting, and doctors, nurses and veterinarians have been the guest speakers. And several times over the last year, professionals from MED have had their turn to share their enthusiasm for engineering and IM.
Susan Corrigan, Winchester STARBASE’s program director, said guest speakers are a valuable part of the program.
“It’s important to tie in our activities with a real-world career,” she said. “It helps give them a reason and a purpose for their education.”
She said students take the lessons back to school with them and apply them in future learning.
“Their teachers will often ask them to remember what they did at STARBASE, and tie it into lessons throughout the year,” she said. “Because everything is hands-on, it really sticks with them.”