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The U.S. Military Academy at West Point chooses Hillsborough County Public Schools to host STEM Workshop

June 24, 2019 - Partners in Education

Cadets and administrators from The United States Military Academy at West Point flew down to Tampa this month to host a first of its kind STEM workshop at Smith Middle School.

Incoming sixth graders along with 7th, 8th and 9th grade students had the opportunity to collaborate with young men and woman who are attending the United States Military Academy.  Students from Sgt. Smith, Martinez, Farnell and Citrus Park participated in the two-day STEM workshop.

Hillsborough County Public Schools was selected for the first time by West Point to help introduce students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

According to The Westpoint Academy website, Army graduates earn a Bachelor of Science degree and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. 

Students selected to attend will have their tuition, room and board, and expenses fully paid, in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation.

“We are looking at underrepresented communities to really provide them a way to get this exposer – what is STEM and how can I get involved with STEM,” said Dr. Samuel Ivy – Director, West Point Center for leadership and diversity in STEM.

Students learned the basics of electricity and circuits, giving them insight into the machines they use every day.

Faculty and cadets reviewed the circuit basics while students worked in teams to build a series of projects like a flashing SOS light, mood lamp, and distance detector.

Students also learned what codes were needed to perform each task along with insights into the machines they use every day.

Incoming ninth grader, Melissa Fraga, wants to study medicine in the future. She was grateful for the opportunity to learn about STEM and choices for higher education.

“It’s really cool but also kind of complicated because I’ve never been exposed to that before,” said, Melissa Fraga. “My partner and I, our main strategy is just trial and error. Just trying it over and over until we get it.”   

Jose Andres Martinez will be an eighth grader this coming school year.

Not only did the STEM workshop challenge him in ways he had never experienced before, but helped him start thinking about his future career.

“It’s pretty interesting because you get to try different things in order to try and get the right thing,” said Martinez. “It opens my mind and allows me to try new things.”

Principal of Smith, Bob Kleesattel, is a graduate of West Point. Once he found out the academy was looking for a school to host the workshop, he immediately reached out to officials from West Point. 

“Most of these students want to go to a college or university when they graduate from high school, so it’s for them good to mingle and engage with the cadets,” said Kleesattel. “Some of them have come across things that have been easy for them in school, so it’s important for them to conquer something they may not know about.”

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