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Students imagine tech careers at Mill Creek STEM Expo

Students were fascinated with the Raven, a small drone from the Unmanned Aircraft Systems with U.S. Army PEO Aviation, at the STEM Expo (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at Mill Creek Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Students were fascinated with the Raven, a small drone from the Unmanned Aircraft Systems with U.S. Army PEO Aviation, at the STEM Expo (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) at Mill Creek Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – If they stay the same course, today’s students will enter careers in engineering and aviation, based on their comments at the first annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo at Mill Creek Elementary School.

About 30 exhibits promoted interest in technical careers. Mill Creek staff, parents and numerous businesses and organizations across North Alabama collaborated for the event on Oct. 24, Mill Creek Principal Dr. Claudia Styles said.

“Mill Creek students are making real-world connections between what they’re learning in classes and how these skills are used in STEM-based careers,” Styles said.

Science educator Michael Johnson gave grade-level presentations throughout the day to inspire future scientists. Exhibits and displays around the school showed advances in gaming, programming, robotics, web design, simulations and engineering studies.

Students flew a Parrot Drone with an iPad with help from Cameron Kramer and Bob Wolfe with Sigmatech, Ron Myers with S3 Inc. and Joe McKay with U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research.

Students wanted to know about launching the drone, its cameras, mission payloads and flight capabilities, such as altitude, endurance and range. “Some asked if the drone carried explosives or missiles,” Beth Kramer said. Kramer, a Mill Creek parent, served as STEM Expo corporate liaison.

“Tops” and “Circuit,” astronaut and robot characters, visited from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and sparked the students’ excitement.

The Mill Creek STEM Expo involved local businesses; agencies; defense contractors like SCS WORX and Intergraph Corporation of Madison; and agriculture with Happy Flappy Farms and Sanderson Farming.

Drake State Technical College sent representatives. University of Alabama in Huntsville students and professors discussed physics, gaming and AMSTI (Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative).

Students met personnel with the Defense Acquisition University, NASA and Space Launch Systems, Army Aviation and Missile Research and Fox Army Health Center.

“Many students waited in line to ride the Segway” from the U.S. Army Garrison at Redstone Arsenal, Kramer said. “The vehicle’s ‘brain’ contains two electronic controller circuit boards with 10 onboard microprocessors.”

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