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Employees share career crafts with students for Tennessee STEAM Festival > Nashville District > News Stories | #schoolsaftey


ANTIOCH, Tenn. (Oct. 24, 2023) – Corps of Engineers employees representing a variety of career fields shared their crafts with students at Antioch Middle School last week during a sanctioned Tennessee STEAM Festival event. Hundreds of sixth, seventh and eighth graders observed demonstrations and presentations and took notes on the many opportunities to pursue careers that require studies focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Students toured a command-and-control vehicle that provides emergency response teams with network connectivity and communications for forward-deployed emergency response personnel. Corps employees also operated an underwater remote operated vehicle and unmanned aerial vehicle with light detection and ranging capabilities, and engaged each group about hydropower, flood risk reduction, natural resources management, geology, biology, navigation, and boating and water safety.

Alyssa Cruz, team instructional coach at Antioch Middle School, said this is the first year that teachers went full STEAM ahead and included STEAM materials into the curriculum and to make it part of their culture. She said being able to collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District fulfilled a need for a community partner so students can truly be excited about STEAM careers and explore what possibilities they have within their own state and their own communities.

“The goal is really that it’s a mindset within the building that students are seeing that there is integration for everything they are learning,” Cruz explained.

Cruz said the Corps of Engineers’ participation in STEAM Festival showed these kids that many opportunities exist related to these subjects and there are many careers that are available in an organization like the Nashville District. 

“There is so much out there. Usually, they don’t get exposed to them until high school or college, and we want to start that process now,” Cruz added. “What we’ve been wanting is a partner that is willing to help us make an experience for students and teachers meaningful and exciting, while not having to be a big lift. And that is what the Corps has done.”

Kyle Tanner, Dive Program coordinator in the Maintenance Section, operated an ROV in a small pool of water, while Nate Brock, UAS pilot in the Survey Mapping Section, flew a LIDAR drone above the school’s football field. Both involved using a joystick, something that drew the attention of lots of kids that love to play video games.

“There is a lot of energy here,” Tanner said standing by the little pool used for the demonstrations. “There’s a lot of interest in the diving and ROV equipment. I had a lot of excitement when they see the ROV. I told them my parents said it wouldn’t pay off to play video games, but it’s pretty similar. They asked a lot of questions about the work that we do, how to become a diver or how to become an engineer.”

On the gridiron, Brock said the kids wanted to see the drone take off and see how high and fast it could go. In general, they wanted to know how much we could lift with it.

“We had a few kids in the group that wanted to know the aspects if it and how this is used in career fields,” Brock said. “I loved it. When I was in school seeing engineers is what drove me into going into engineering. Hopefully I can do this for somebody else.”

Groups of 15 to 20 students were escorted by teachers to one of 15 different stations where they listened to presentations, took notes, and interacted with Corps employees. They gravitated and engaged more with subjects of interest.

Aaron Jaden said he loves how STEAM subjects are being integrated in his classes, but he especially enjoys science. He added that he really enjoyed seeing how the Corps of Engineers offers related career opportunities.

“I really learned a lot from it,” Jaden said. “I liked seeing the boat because I heard some of the people on the boat are marine biologists (a career field he is interested in). I got to talk to them about it.”

Jaden said a lot of students don’t know what they want to do in life at this point, so an event like this can serve to inspire them to explore what they want to become, and to do better in STEAM classes.

Dr. Jennifer Berry, director of STEAM and Science with Metro Nashville Public School System, attended the event and said the Tennessee STEAM Festival makes it possible for organizations across the state of Tennessee to participate in events from Oct. 13-22 that bring STEAM to life for students in a fun and engaging way.

“We cannot do what we do without support, and the Army Corps of Engineers comes in and provides so much support for our schools,” Berry said. “Students cannot be what they cannot see. And so, the strong focus on career awareness allows students to visualize what they could become. Also, students cannot love what they do not experience. So, experiences like this allow students to see the possibilities of where science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics live in the real world.”

John Baird, Operations Section natural resources specialist; Alex Bohlin, Management Support Branch mechanical engineer; Josh Bomar, chief of Civil and Geotechnics Branch; and Tiffany Hines, Hydropower Section maintenance engineer; led Nashville District’s initiative to partner with Antioch Middle School. About 25 employees took part in showing and telling what they do and answering questions posed by students interested in careers, education required for particular careers, and even pay possibilities with different jobs.

Hines said she thought the event was fantastic and a huge success!

“They asked lots of questions at all of our exhibits. The advantage to this event is keeping the students’ minds going, just showing them the opportunities that are out there,” Hines said.

The students will one day grow up and pursue STEAM careers, possibly with an organization like the Corps of Engineers. Now is the time to catch their interest, learn about their hobbies and interests, and use that to shape their future careers, Hines said.

The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest Nashville District employment and contracting opportunities at https://www.linkedin.com/company/u-s-army-corps-of-engineers-nashville-district.





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