CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, CALIF- --
Over 100 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students from various middle schools across Ventura County recently participated in the Tri Warfare Middle School Challenge at the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station. Students were able to develop hands-on learning experiences that demonstrate how engineers use math and science to develop ideas and solve problems.
This was the first time the 146 AW to host the event, providing a venue for the students to work on their projects inside the wing’s maintenance hangar where California Air National Guard personnel acted as mentors to assist with the students’ projects.
The Tri Warfare Middle School challenge was developed by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Outreach Coordinator Ramon Flores and STEM faculty members. Students in attendance were challenged to build a bridge with limited resources such as pieces of pasta and adhesive materials, and then tested their projects to see which could withstand the most weight by attaching buckets of water below.
Created by both Naval Base Ventura County, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), the Tri Warfare Middle School challenge aims to strengthen skills training and local employment outcomes for students pursuing careers in the STEM fields.
Acting as mentors, California Air National Guard and U.S. Navy personnel from Naval Base Ventura County helped divvy tasks and materials needed to complete the challenge to individual groups of students as they began assembling their bridges.
Students rotated through several workstations and interacted with various military equipment including flight simulators, military Humvee’s and the chance to tour the inside of a C-130J aircraft with personnel from the 115th Airlift Squadron (115 AS).
California Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Alan Franklin, a member of the 146th Maintenance Group, provided a mentorship role for one group of students during their visit. Franklin says for him the experience has created a new perspective on how the military and students can share a mutual benefit from the programs like the Tri Warfare Challenge.
“I think It’s awesome to see the military and the STEM students share this common ground through technology and science. I was truly impressed seeing how the students all worked together to create solutions for their projects,” said Franklin. “They looked like they were really engaged all day exploring all the technology and workstations and they looked like they had a lot of fun getting that hands-on experience.”
In his opening statement to the students at the event, Col. Keith Ward, Commander 146 AW, spoke about how he believes events like this will help embolden students looking to peruse their passion in STEM field careers.
“All the technology you see here came from someone just like you and your passion for science and technology. Student’s like you will become future engineers and scientists that the world will look to for answers,” said Ward. “What you discover here today could be the spark in connecting you to that future and passion, and we are so happy to have you here and hope you have a lot of fun.”
Both the 146 AW and NSWC PHD have agreed to peruse the partnership for hosting the event at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in the future, with a second challenge scheduled for early 2020.