Teachers, experts inspire Ft. Benning students to pursue STEM careers

Fort Benning, GA (WTVM) - Teachers and robotics experts at the Maneuver Center of Excellence spent quality time engaging with bright young minds, showing them the dozens of opportunities a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) can bring, including making a machine of their own.

"This world didn't start out with all this technology being here," said 8th-grade student Alejandra Escobar. "How we found a way to put it together - that's what amazes me."

Monday was the official start of STEM Week for Fort Benning Schools. A demonstration for students at Faith Middle School Monday morning allowed them touch and control the very same robots soldiers use for special missions or even routine tasks.

This is all thanks to a concerted effort and partnership with the fort's schools, experts with the Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate (CDID) and other STEM programs across the Valley community. All parties will be spending the week on post, sparking kids' interests in learning what makes these machines run.

Some examples of the machines on display include drones like the  - including drones and other reconnaissance robots.

7th-grade student Aidan Knicely learned about how the wings and other parts of an airplane drone fit together.

"[Some people will] try to put different red arrows with the other red arrows, when it's not supposed to be together," he said.

News Leader 9 asked some of the students if they're already thinking about a career in STEM, and what the experts in the room think about these kids.

"When I was younger, I always loved the idea of how, wondering how things work," Escobar said.  "Maybe, I could build my own one day."

"They have a very good understanding of how these tools actually work," said Maj. Wes Brown, a member of the CDID robotics team.

"Not just the fact that they know how to drive them," he said, "but also the fact that they can drive them... and make it much better."

The school's principal and technology teachers also said even though this program is relatively new, the passion the kids show for this subject inspires them to develop their students' future potential.

As for the knowledge and skills these students already have - teachers said a group of Faith Middle School students already know what it may take to build and use the latest generation of robots, because they're building their own, using advanced LEGO kits.

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