WPAFB conducts STEM outreach with local schools

Students at Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek learn about molecules, cohesion and surface tension using the “bubbles and water” lesson as part of the Wizards of Wright! presentation in April. (Contributed photo)
Students at Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek learn about molecules, cohesion and surface tension using the “bubbles and water” lesson as part of the Wizards of Wright! presentation in April. (Contributed photo)

Beavercreek students get look at Wizards of Wright!

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Educational Outreach Office remains active in bringing science, technology, engineering and math into area classrooms.

The Wizards of Wright! program recently visited Beavercreek schools to provide engaging STEM presentations to students in kindergarten through second grade.

First-grade students in the Wizards of Wright! program use ultraviolet beads to show the effect of UV rays during an outreach lesson in April. (Contributed photo)
First-grade students in the Wizards of Wright! program use ultraviolet beads to show the effect of UV rays during an outreach lesson in April. (Contributed photo)

In April, about 1,500 students and 70 teachers from Fairbrook, Main, Parkwood, Shaw, Trebein and Valley elementary schools were introduced to the program with assistance from base volunteers.

“We’re trying to get kids involved in STEM no matter if they come work for the Department of Defense, Air Force or in the private sector,” said Dan Andrews, STEM Division chief in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s WPAFB Educational Outreach Office. “Students in grades K-12 are at the beginning of our STEM pipeline.”

The Wizards of Wright! program introduces students to STEM activities at an early age, which is “vital to helping instill learning traits that will last a lifetime,” he said.

In the WOW! program, WPAFB volunteers will come into the classroom and give demonstrations. Teachers may also borrow materials for their own instruction as virtual and “do-it-yourself” kits are available.

During the April presentations, kindergarten students learned about molecules, cohesion and surface tension using the “bubbles and water” lesson. Through experiments, students worked with different wands to blow bubbles and then hypothesized on the potential shape, size and time the bubbles would hold.

Students at Main Elementary School in Beavercreek take part in a “bubbles and water” experiment during the Wizards of Wright! program presentation in April. (Contributed photo)
Students at Main Elementary School in Beavercreek take part in a “bubbles and water” experiment during the Wizards of Wright! program presentation in April. (Contributed photo)

First-grade students used the “UV rays” lesson to learn about the sun, its rays, harmful ultraviolet light and how to protect their skin. UV beads showed the effect of ultraviolet rays as students used the beads to create bracelets or keychains that reacted to them.

Through the “design thinking for elementary students” model used by engineers and designers to help solve problems, second-graders got to learn about brainstorming techniques.

Andrews said the WOW! program aims to get children excited about their learning, as well as set them up for future success in several career fields.

“We try for excitement, a spark, a smile, whatever we can do to get the kids excited and wanting to learn more about STEM, aviation, aerospace, the Air Force, whatever we can to keep the learning going,” he added. “Getting our future scientists and engineers excited, we always try to be a bridge between WPAFB and the classroom.”

COVID-19 restrictions changed the 2020-2021 school year for Educational Outreach Office officials, who pivoted in order to make sure teachers still had the resources they needed, said Angel Callahan, WOW! Wizards of Wright program manager.

Administrators created WOW! TV for Teachers, enabling teachers to use videos of each WOW! lesson in their classrooms.

“We also offered our resources to homeschooling families and groups, and added more resources and activity ideas to our website,” Callahan said. “We are hoping that the 2021-2022 school year allows us to make those in-person visits that we are known for as we continue to assist teachers in meeting their STEM goals and objectives.”

To volunteer or learn more about all the activities managed by the WPAFB Educational Outreach Office, visit wpafbstem.com/.