Washington, DC — August 31, 2015 — This summer, the Army enabled hundreds of students to experience the reality of hands-on science in leading Army and university research labs. Through the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), high school students of all proficiency levels, interests, and social and economic backgrounds participated in real-world STEM experiences while engaging with Army-sponsored mentors.
The Research & Engineering Apprenticeship Program (REAP) is a summer STEM program that places talented high school students, from groups historically under-represented and underserved in STEM, in research apprenticeships at area colleges and universities. One such project took place under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen M. Kuebler (Chemistry Department, University of Central Florida, Orlando). High schools students worked with Dr. Kuebler and his team to learn how an ion-selective electrode works and how it can be used to measure chemical concentration.
Aadit Vyas participated in the program over the summer. As a high school student, Vyas has already co-authored a conference proceeding on his research. He will pursue a degree in biomedical science and attend medical school. Vyas said, “I believe that the real lab experience I obtained through the REAP program will provide the skills and foundation I need to achieve my goals.”
Vyas’s mentor, Dr. Kuebler, appreciates having high school students in his lab. “REAP students bring fresh perspective and curiosity that adds vibrancy to our research,” he said. “As an educator, my primary goal is to support learning and the creation and dissemination of knowledge. REAP is helping to sustain and expand our nation’s resource of knowledgeable, inquisitive, and creative scientists and engineers.”
Alycia McEachen participated in AEOP’s High School Apprentice Program (HSAP) at Purdue University. This program, sponsored by the Army Research Office and AEOP, also provides high school students with an authentic science and engineering research experience alongside university researchers. McEachen evaluated how to optimize boron carbide ceramic suspension gels (CeraSGels) for robocasting using a 3D printer. Boron carbide and water volume percent were varied in order to achieve the desired compositions, then evaluated for yield stress, which dictates how well a formed piece will retain its shape. McEachen said, ”My experience in AEOP this summer was incredible. I got to spend time working on a real life problem in my interest field. I am so glad to have been able to work in Professor Trice’s research group!”
In addition to working in the lab, students in the HSAP program are exposed to a variety of career choices and guidance. For example, students in the program at the University of Miami toured the Dade County Medical Examiner’s office to learn about a possible career choice enabled with knowledge of chemistry. HSAP participants also attended seminars on the college application process. They learned to carry out literature searches and create scientific reports. The students prepared posters and shared their work with students in other summer programs, which teaches valuable written and oral communication skills.
Through the AEOP, thousands of additional students from elementary school through college engaged in hands-on STEM programs. AEOP’s STEM competitions exposed tens of thousands of additional students to scientific research methods and engineering principles in an interactive way.
The AEOP’s internship and apprenticeship opportunities are offered as summer programs. Students who would like to participate next year can visit www.usaeop.com and follow the link to learn about Programs. Details on competitive programs like eCybermission, Junior Solar Sprint, and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium are also available under the Programs tab at the AEOP web site.
AEOP relies on the expertise, knowledge and input of educators, partners, mentors and other volunteers to ensure that all programs are complementary to classroom instruction and integration. Educators and volunteers are encouraged to read information under the Get Involved tab on the AEOP web site to learn how they (and their students) can participate in AEOP programs.