The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District and Department of Defense Dependents (DoDDS) Schools Korea partnered together for the third year in a row to support activities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field this April.
Events such as a toothpick bridge design competition and an egg container drop were just a few of the events that put the students’ skills in architectural design, basic physics and structural engineering to the test.
“It's important to ignite the passion for science, technology, engineering and math in children at a young age,” said Lisa Roberts, STEM coordinator at Seoul American Elementary School. “With technology changing so rapidly, many careers that are available and will be available in the future are STEM careers.”
These STEM initiatives are a part of a renewed emphasis in a career field where the U.S. has been lagging of late. In the 1970’s 40 percent of the world’s scientists and engineers resided in the U.S. Today that number has shrunk to about 15 percent.
“We need a million more STEM graduates by 2018,” said Lt. Gen Thomas P. Bostick, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Chief of Engineers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only five percent of U.S. workers are employed in fields related to science and engineering, yet they are responsible for more than 50 percent of our sustained economic expansion.
“We need to prepare our 21st century learners to be problem solvers and to collaborate with others,” said Roberts. “Making science, technology, engineering and math interesting and fun will plant the seed for students to continue exploring these areas in their future educational careers.”
The theme at Seoul American Elementary school in April is “Engineering is Elementary." Each grade level from Kindergarten to 4th grade will participate in engineering projects. Campus wide there will be a display of satellite equipment and helicopters from 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade (Aeronautical Engineering).
On a recent trip to the Far East district, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Milhorn, 31st Commander and Division Engineer for the Pacific Ocean Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, visited DoDDS Korea schools in Seoul to emphasize his support of the partnership.
“Thank you for focusing on something that’s so important and we recognize that,” said Milhorn. “I love to see the smiles on the kid’s faces.”
Students who have been participating in STEM classes said they were excited to have the chance to aquire new tools that will benefit them in the future.
“I have learned a tremendous amount of things,” said Isaac Lichi, a 7th grade student at Seoul American Middle School. “In graphics we are learning about Photoshop and graphic design. I’ve become much better in those areas and I’m thankful for that. My last school didn’t have these classes and when I came here I was very happy to see they had these classes.”
The STEM activities will continue throughout the month of April at DoDDS Korea schools.