More than 700 scouts experienced a “hands-on approach” to learning during the seventh annual STEM in Scouting event at APG North (Aberdeen) Oct. 14.
The all-day event was open to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the region, and focused on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, related subjects. The scouts had the opportunity to earn badges in areas like engineering, astronomy, aviation, weather, geocaching and space exploration. Adult volunteers also had the option to receive CPR and leadership training.
Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, welcomed the scouts, parents and volunteers to APG.
“At RDECOM and across APG we spend a lot of time and effort to grow the next generation of scientists and engineers because we know the readiness of our future Soldiers will depend on the good ideas of people in school today,” he said.
“You are our next generation of STEM leaders, whether you end up in an Army lab, working with one of our partners in the academic and industrial communities, as a teacher or an informed citizen of our great country.”
After the opening remarks, the scouts split up into groups to earn merit badges. APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor met with several of the attendees, noting that he was a Boy Scout.
“There is so much interest here, and such diversity, so many things for the scouts to do and study,” he said. “What a great asset here for our community.”
Dan Williams, a contractor who served as event chair, said the annual STEM in Scouting event is a “team effort.” Scouting, Williams noted, helps children prepare for the future.
“That’s really the point of scouting, is to give kids life experiences and exposure they may not get at home or through school,” he said. “It’s important to round out their development.”
During the lunch break, the scouts viewed APG displays and participated in educational, interactive games and activities. The Directorate of Emergency Services’ K-9 section provided a military dog demonstration.
A popular activity was “Strawberry DNA,” led by Casey Weininger, a STEM coordinator with RDECOM. During this activity the scouts added cold rubbing alcohol to strawberry juice to extract the DNA that was locked inside the cells.
“The DNA resembles strands of cotton thread and was easily visible,” he said. “Scouts got to take home the extracted DNA in a small test tube.”
Boy Scout John Strucke, from Beechwood, New Jersey, with Troop 70, completed tasks to earn the Surveying Merit Badge during the event. He described the day as “a lot of fun.”
“I especially like that this event is on a military base,” he said. “We get to see cool stuff here, like the military vehicles.”
Harford District Executive Tyler Korpisz, with the Boy Scouts of America Baltimore Area Council, said he appreciates those who volunteered during the event.
“We have already started thinking about how we are going to put the event on next year,” he said. “What we really hope [is that] they walk away with a better understanding of the opportunities available in the STEM career fields, and have a good time.”