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School events focus on STEM, students design inventions

CW3 Carl Miller, B. Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Battalion, shows off the RQ-11B Raven to students at FRES as part of STEM Fest April 25. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

CW3 Carl Miller, B. Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Battalion, shows off the RQ-11B Raven to students at FRES as part of STEM Fest April 25. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: May 2, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 2, 2014) -- Fort Rucker Elementary School is an institute that challenges the students to not only think outside the box, but also how to carry what they learn every day into the future.

As a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math school, FRES takes pride in charging into conducting experiments, finding innovative ways to educate its students and encouraging the children to be inventors, engineers and scientists, said FRES principal Vicki Gilmer.

“The students have been working on the engineering design process and have really enjoyed the hands-on approach to learning,” she said. “So, to celebrate all their hard work, we held STEM Fest. Today is a celebration of all the thinking skills they developed this year.”

STEM Fest was held April 25 at the school where students were divided into six groups that rotated around six different learning stations. The learning stations included the invention convention, where a power truck from Pea River Electric Cooperative was on hand; a Zumba class station; a Google Doodle station; a hands-on station that included different activities, such as team cup stacking and building a zip line; a power safety class; and a star lab station.

But before the students began their trip across the school, Capt. Adam Samiof and CW3 Carl Miller, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Battalion, gave a demonstration of the RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft  system.

“We came to talk about the Raven at the school because all unmanned  aircraft systems envelope all STEM  subjects. We want to show them that if STEM subjects interest them, then one day they can maybe work with UAS,” said Samiof. “We talked about futuristic avionics and what future airplanes might look like. They might not realize that they themselves might be the developers of new technology for helicopters, airplanes and UAS.”

Miller believes that children have many ideas that are amazing to consider as an adult.

“Their minds work much differently than when we were growing up,” he said. “It is a lot easier for them to think outside the box, because for them, they don’t even know what the box is!”

Haylie Rankin said that her favorite subject is art, but that she appreciated science because it helps create new ways for her to express herself.

“I love art because I can show my emotions on a piece of paper. Art is amazing, but I have to have tools to paint and draw with,” she said. “I can’t make art without brushes and paint and crayons, and someone used science to make the things I need to make art.”

STEM Fest was the culminating event after a long week of field trips and guest speakers.

“We had representatives from Farley Nuclear Plant come and speak with the children, we visited U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, we visited the Army Aviation Museum and did a scavenger hunt for inventions past and present, and we visited Lyster Army Health Clinic where we learned about medical inventions, tools and even diseases,” said the principal.

The entire school also participated in an invention project for several weeks where students were given the task to solve a problem in their daily lives. All 417 inventions were on display during STEM Fest.

“We wanted them to think on what they could do to make their lives easier,” said Gilmer. “The children’s imaginations are so broad. Their inventions were amazing. We wanted to steer away from the science project this time and have them focus on a thinking project.”

Some of the inventions were massaging backpacks, gloves that have hooks on them for maximum grocery carrying capacity, and water bottle identification caps.

This is the first time STEM Fest was held, but Gilmer has high hopes for the future.

“When the children see their inventions displayed and see how they can alter future technology, it gets them excited,” she said. “When they see something they have learned in a book applied to something they can see and touch, it helps them make the connection. What they imagine today, might be something they patent in 10 years.”

This article was originally published at

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