Full Throttle STEM returns, expands to Air Force Museum> Air Force Materiel Command> Article Display

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Full Throttle STEM events May 10, 2022, at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and May 12, 2022, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, proven to be After two years without success, due to the pandemic. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Gaming Research Integration for Learning Lab, or GRILL, hosts events with 12 schools in attendance between both locations.

Dr. Wink Bennett, lead the GRILL and readiness product line with the 711th Human Performance Wing, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, said he and other AFRL members were passionately watching the busses pull up for the science, technology, Engineering and math event at the Eldora Speedway.

“After two years of not being able to do this, it was really great to be back here,” he said. “The kids were as enthusiastic and excited as ever. I think the teachers were really thrilled to be back here doing this again … even though two years had passed … I don’t think we lost an ounce of inspiration or an ounce of excitement in the stuff that STEM is about. You can see the projects and the kids’ faces today. “

Students in the surrounding areas were able to learn throughout the academic year and apply their skills in physics, graphic design and marketing to create various projects that were highlighted at the event. Projects include virtual reality, or VR, simulators, drones, autonomous vehicles and RC cars.

“We had kids from middle school and high school in rural Ohio [at the speedway]so we like to think this is an inspiring opportunity for them to not only develop their own STEM skills … but also to compete against some of their peers, “Bennett said.

One St. Henry High School teacher agreed and expressed the importance of student interaction between peers, as well as professionals on the site.

“It’s such an awesome event,” said Angie Wendel, an engineering and technology teacher at St. Henry High School.

Wendel said being able to showcase their projects and seeing other students’ reactions instills a level of pride in their work. She also noted the importance of students sharing difficulties while they are creating their projects.

“I think it’s important to develop that sense of success and perseverance to know that [it] It’s common to run into these things, but you’re just going to keep going and end up with a really cool one [project]”Wendell said.

Since Wendel has been part of the event since its exception, she said she has seen past students who have participated in the STEM event go on to make a career out of it.

“Some of the other students didn’t really have a clear direction for where they were going or what they wanted to do,” she added. “But giving them opportunities like this and interacting with other professionals – it gives them … exposure really.”

One piece of advice Wendel said she always gives her students is “to be curious, be persistent and be passionate.”

Wendel said bridging AFRL with local schools to create the STEM exposure is a great opportunity.

“It’s a different perspective because the Air Force is able to incorporate… engineering [and] technology through the GRILL, “she said. “People don’t think using gaming engines to develop professional simulations that the Air Force is using.”

“It’s a really cool thing to expose kids to,” she added.

While the main event is arguably racing the remote RC vehicles, some schools focus on computer-related projects.

Such was the case for Matt Grote, a technology education teacher at Arcanum Butler High School.

“This event has always been awesome for us to come and show off the STEM related projects we’ve been working on throughout the year,” Grote said. “This year we worked with a lot of modeling and simulation.”

Grote said the kids used various computer programs to create 3D models and put them into a VR game.

This year, Grote’s students created a roll-a-ball game and a VR hotdog shop.

Connor Moores, 17, an Arcanum Butler High School student, was part of the group to create a VR game. Through trials, errors and various programs, he said his VR pizza stand became a hotdog stand.

Initially, Moores didn’t think the project would take much time, but he quickly realized it was a building process.

Moores said there were times he didn’t understand why something wasn’t working.

“But then I found out the problem was pretty simple … and it felt nice solving the problem easily,” Moores added.

He also said it was gratifying to see the steps and all the work that went into the project, especially when he saw other students playing the VR game at the speedway.

“Seeing people find different ways to do what we actually meant for the game is pretty cool,” Moores said.

“Sometimes when [the students are] doing a project in class, [they] Don’t really see the importance of it outside [the classroom], “Grote said. “So having events like this one where you are not really judged on what you do, but you have an opportunity to showcase what you’ve done – and then really see what other schools have done – it really shows them that it’s worthwhile.”

With the AFRL staff on site, they were able to interact with the students and show them similar projects created by the Air Force.

“Having the Air Force Research Lab here really shows the kids that there is a career path that they can do,” Grote said.

Grote said a career in the STEM field can be trying at times and it is important to try consistently.

“You’re going to try and try again, and keep going and pushing through and persevere,” Grote added. “And they finally see the results when they come here and show that every time they fail and they finally fixed something, that it’s really worthwhile in the end.”

With a heavy emphasis on workforce development for STEM, Bennett said it is important that AFRL is part of the process that gets kids excited about STEM.

“You just never know what happens … today is going to spark someone to go after a STEM career field in the future,” Bennett said. “And if we just get one spark in one day, that’s a big deal. Usually, we start with a small fire and that’s really good. “

For students thinking of careers in STEM, Bennett suggested they visit the GRILL for a summer or sign up for the Wright Scholar Research Assistant program which allows high school students to work with the Air Force and further their interests in a STEM career field. More information can be found at the fact sheet for the program.

“Thanks to everyone for the opportunity to do this … We can’t do this without AFRL, we can’t do it without the community’s involvement either,” Bennett said. “It takes a village to do this kind of stuff and I’m happy to be a part of this one.”

Attendance in schools included: Northmont City Schools, Arcanum Butler High School, Tri-County North, St. Henry High School, National Train High School, Coldwater High School, Franklin Monroe High School, Versailles High School, Eaton High School, Valley View Junior High School, Oakwood High School and Dayton Regional STEM School.

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace forces. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from basic to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.comGeneral Chat Chat Lounge

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