“Operation STEM Drop” brought laser printers, virtual reality headsets – even robots – to a University of Mary Washington makerspace classroom last week.
The story below was originally posted by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD):
NSWC Dahlgren Division Gifts STEM Materials to University of Mary Washington
By NSWCDD Corporate Communications
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) is intent on supporting the STEM education goals set forth by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. That was never more apparent than on Oct. 18 when NSWCDD officials donated nearly $30,000 worth of STEM equipment to the University of Mary Washington (UMW) to support the preparation of K-12 STEM educators and their students in the Fredericksburg region and beyond.
“Our partnership with the University of Mary Washington has had a tremendous impact on our ability to expand and maximize our STEM outreach and support the state’s STEM education goals,” NSWCDD Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift said. “With UMW’s help, we are designing a game-changing STEM education program that places an emphasis on preparing future K-12 STEM educators and offering inspiring academic STEM opportunities for students across the region.”
Clift was on hand for the official presentation of the gifts at UMW’s Seacobeck Hall.
The donations to the newly furnished makerspace included tools that will help establish 3D printing capabilities, wide ranging options for robotics activities, and virtual reality opportunities. The equipment included Ozobot, Sphero, and Lego Spike Robotics kits, a Formlabs 3D printer with several other accessories to support 3D printing, a Glowforge laser cutter, and 17 Meta Quest 2 virtual reality headsets.
UMW President Troy Paino said the gift from NSWCDD is going to “transform lives.”
“We are so pleased that we could donate this makerspace capability to UMW to provide hands-on opportunities for our local students, to get them excited about STEM and the career opportunities ahead of them,” Clift said. “We value our partnership with UMW and look forward to doing great things for STEM education.”
NSWCDD Technical Director Dale Sisson, Jr., SES, said the partnership with UMW has never been stronger than it is now.
Sisson said that Clift’s office has been purposeful about strengthening the relationships between NSWCDD and schools in the surrounding area.
“Our entire Technology Office is doing things that we have never done before,” Sisson said. “We are signing cooperative research and development agreements by the dozen. We’re putting educational partnering agreements in place across the country, and this partnership represents one of our most important. We are proud to leverage the entirety of what the University of Mary Washington brings to the table.”
UMW Dean of the College of Education Pete Kelly also reflected on the partnership. Kelly said he’s excited about the difference the gifts will make to UMW students who are training to become educators. He’s also looking forward to assisting K-12 teachers in the region.
“We want to be a regional hub to help develop capacity for that work,” Kelly said. “Our K-12 teachers need help on that front and NSWCDD’S gift is going to make a difference. We’re already talking about having one of our STEM nights and inviting [NSWCDD officials] back because we want you to see these materials and supplies in action with our students and the difference that it is making.”
NSWCDD also partners with UMW’s College of Education to host field trips that give students and teachers hands-on experience in STEM education, and feature collaborations in the arts and sciences across campus. Stafford and Spotsylvania County schools have visited this fall, and more trips are planned. In addition, the two organizations team up for the annual Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren, a robotics competition for high school students. Registration is open now.