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MacDill hosts first-ever STEM event

  • Published
  • By Airman Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Volunteers from around MacDill Air Force Base, Florida teamed up to host more than 350 students for MacDill's School Day, April 29, 2016.

Formerly known as Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Day, School Day included not only JROTC students from multiple schools, but science, technology, engineering and mathematics students as well. This marks the first time MacDill has ever hosted a STEM event.

STEM is a method of teaching hands-on, problem-solving education that provides effective learning for students.

"One of the important STEM pipelines is our military," said Larry Plank, the director of STEM education for the Hillsborough County public schools.

School Day offered the students insight into the present-day Air Force, and the STEM job outlook the military offers.

Students were able to watch a military working dog demonstration performed by the 6th Security Forces Squadron, explore the inside of a KC-135 Stratotanker, and learn about many STEM activities.

One group of students, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment 755 from the University of Puerto Rico, traveled more than 1,200 miles to visit MacDill.

With little Air Force presence on the island, the opportunity to visit a base like MacDill was a unique occasion.

"Ninety-nine percent of the cadets that came to School Day have never stepped foot on an Air Force installation," said Maj. Jennifer Rock, the operations flight commander for detachment 755. "For many of the cadets, this is an eye-opening experience."

While on base, the cadets also had the opportunity to practice communicating in English.

"Our detachment is the only ROTC detachment that produces completely bilingual officers, said Rock. "The students graduate as second lieutenants that can speak both Spanish and English fluently."

Air Education and Training Command, based in Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, pays for one AFROTC detachment per year to travel to an Air Force base. Coincidentally, School Day took place during detachment 755's base visit.

School Day wasn't just a chance for students to leave the classroom, it was an opportunity for them to find an inspiration in a STEM field, or reinforce their dream of joining the Air Force. It opens new doors for the students who watch and learn, shaping what the future will bring.