updated: 4/22/2011 1:32:08 PM

Crane Boosting State's STEM Education

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

 Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center STEM Outreach Coordinator Allison Smith says approximately 180 students have been through the program since it launched this month.

The Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center has launched an initiative to improve math and science education. Fourth and fifth graders from throughout Indiana can visit the center to learn about math and science. The Crane Engineers in Training program has been developed in partnership with the University of Southern Indiana.

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April 22, 2011

News Release

Crane, Ind.— On April 5, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) launched a new initiative within the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) allowing fourth and fifth graders from across Indiana to visit the Warfare Center and learn important math and science lessons.

Modeled after La Luz Academy at Kirtland Air Force Base, the program is called Crane Engineers in Training. Developed in partnership with the University of Southern Indiana (USI), it allows a class of up to 30 students to visit NSWC Crane for a full inquiry- and design-based day during school hours. The program is funded jointly through the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) and NSWC Crane.

Its basis is in the understanding that not all students are able to participate in after-school science activities, and to pursue technical fields later in life, they must be engaged by the eighth grade.
“Research shows that to really attract interest in math and science, students need to be engaged by the eighth grade,” said Alison Smith, NSWC Crane Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) coordinator. “Through this program, all students have the opportunity to learn about engineering, meet engineers and be an engineer for a day.”

For the pilot program, NSWC Crane will conduct the program two days per week through May. NSWC Crane anticipates conducting the program four days per week when the program officially begins in August— equating to more than 2,000 students participating in the program next school year.

Crane Engineers in Training is aligned with the Indiana Academic Standards to ensure appropriate content is taught. The pilot program was met with very positive reviews from local teachers and will continue for the remainder of this school year.

Students began the day by meeting with Brandy Frady, a licensed Indiana teacher who NSWC Crane hired to lead the program. Frady stepped the children through lessons related to science and technology, specifically alternative energy. Students participated in an activity in which they had freedom of design to build their own solar oven with materials provided by NSWC Crane. After collecting real data from the activity, such as oven temperature levels, and comparing the various ovens made by their classmates, the students re-designed their ovens. The re-design highlighted the continual improvements that are essential to actual engineering projects.

Later, an NSWC Crane engineer visited the classroom to discuss how these lessons are applied in real-world alternative energy technologies. The students asked questions related to how technologies work and careers in science and engineering. Following this meeting, the group took an NSWC Crane driving tour to see the premier facilities first hand.

“The hands-on activities were very appropriate and worthwhile,” said a participating elementary teacher. “The day was a perfect extension to the classroom.”

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