WPAFB partners with Communities in Schools of Ohio

Maj. Daniel Miller, an Air Force Institute of Technology student, explains how the new Air Force Research Laboratory cubelets work to a student and her parent during North Dayton School of Discovery’s first STEM night Sept. 16. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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Maj. Daniel Miller, an Air Force Institute of Technology student, explains how the new Air Force Research Laboratory cubelets work to a student and her parent during North Dayton School of Discovery’s first STEM night Sept. 16. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Volunteers WOW! local students with STEM knowledge

The Wizards of Wright! partnered with Communities in Schools of Ohio recently to share science, technology, engineering and math expertise with local students.

On Sept. 16, North Dayton School of Discovery hosted its first STEM night. The event was held to showcase STEM projects of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to their parents and community members.

Communities in Schools of Ohio, founded in 1993, has been helping state schools assess and meet youth needs using existing technology. The organization partners with multiple agencies and positions site coordinators in schools to provide resources that help students succeed in the classroom and life.

When CIS of Ohio brought its program to five Dayton-area schools, William Crabtree, site coordinator at North Dayton, was ready to participate and knew this would be a perfect fit for his students.

One of Crabtree’s first objectives was to partner with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to tap its group of volunteers for their STEM expertise, he said.

Crabtree’s first call was to Angel Callahan, the Wizards of Wright! program manager. WOW! is one of many K-12 STEM programs offered by the WPAFB Educational Outreach Office.

The WOW! Program offers nine flights of free resources to teachers and parents.

“We present in-person STEM lessons to area schools, classrooms and homeschool groups, as well as lend materials to teachers for their own STEM lessons,” Callahan said. “We also offer STEM videos of our lessons and the opportunity to present them remotely when we can’t visit in person, or when the classroom isn’t local. We offer do-it-yourself activity sheets and videos for students and families to learn more about STEM at home, and we also offer WPAFB volunteer-run demonstrations.”

Callahan worked with Crabtree and found two Wright-Patt volunteers to help with North Dayton School of Discovery’s first STEM night: Maj. Daniel Miller, an Air Force Institute of Technology student, and 2nd Lt. Josh Kuhnel from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

“The reputation of the WPAFB STEM program is second to none,” Crabtree said. “We are excited to partner with (them) because it allows our students to get their hands on technology they wouldn’t get otherwise, and it allows them to spend time with an adult who broadens that student’s mind and view of the world.

“Having WPAFB volunteers at our STEM night also allowed our teachers and staff to see the benefits of working with the program, which will hopefully prompt them to use the materials, services and volunteers more often and create even more opportunities for our students.”

Miller and Kuhnel brought in robotics, thermal imaging, balsa wood gliders and a wealth of knowledge to share with the students, parents and faculty.

“It was an opportunity to have our students interact with technology they wouldn’t normally have access to, and they got to speak with Air Force volunteers to gain additional knowledge of the real-world uses of the technology they are using,” Crabtree said.

He said the success of STEM night and Wright-Patt collaboration led North Dayton School of Discovery to create a robotics club for students to continue learning.

NDSD and CIS of Ohio hope the relationship with WPAFB continues, officials said. The four other CIS partner schools in the Dayton area are Pathway School of Discovery, Emerson Academy, Meadowdale High School and Westwood Elementary.