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US Army National Guard units broaden STEM outreach with Pitsco

Guard teams tap into TETRIX® and other Pitsco products to connect with students

Published February 20, 2019
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PITTSBURG, KS (February 20, 2019) – The mission of the United States Army National Guard encompasses service to both community and country. The organization's soldiers are deployed not only in combat roles overseas and in disaster relief roles domestically but also in educator roles in classrooms. With the help of Pitsco Education, National Guard units in a growing number of states are expanding their STEM outreach into schools – and providing resources and learning experiences for teachers and students at no cost.

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The National Guard, which employs a wide range of technology experts and engineers in its operations, is an ideal promoter of STEM skills, deemed an essential focus for the growth of a successful 21st-century workforce. Currently, National Guard units in eight states use Pitsco STEM products.

The first unit to create an educational outreach experience utilizing Pitsco products was the Massachusetts Army National Guard. The state's program brings the TETRIX® robotics building system and Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue competition activities to schools that request it. Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue is a SkillsUSA® national competition created by Pitsco. Students engineer, build, and operate robots that search out unexploded ordnance in a simulated disaster area.

"Urban Search & Rescue plays right into our mission," said Sergeant First Class Geoffrey Allen of the Massachusetts Army National Guard's recruiting and retention battalion. "You can easily bridge the gap between the robotics the students use and what we would use in a real-world scenario for our own search and rescue missions."

The experience the Massachusetts Army National Guard brings is customizable to the needs of teachers. The group arrives with mobile trailers stocked with the TETRIX robots and kits to provide experiences that can range from an hour to a week.

"Some of these schools just don't have the ability to purchase things of this scale on their own," said Sergeant Allen. "To give them access to that on our site – it's a win-win for them. We have a great time doing it, and it has brought us into a lot of schools that really want STEM access."

The runaway success of the program caught the attention of National Guard units in other states, and similar programs have quickly spread.

The New Jersey Army National Guard was the second unit to develop a program based on, though differing from, the one in Massachusetts. The organization's STEAM Team (the A is for art, an element sometimes combined with traditional STEM education) also uses the TETRIX kits and Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue activities to spread STEM enthusiasm and knowledge.

In addition, the team provides schools with two additional offerings based on Pitsco STEM products. The first is a CO2-powered car curriculum, which incorporates wind tunnel technology and a race track. The second incorporates the use of air- and water-powered rockets. The vision of the STEAM Team's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Gagnon, is to provide STEAM opportunities throughout the entire school calendar. All program offerings connect with a bevy of science and engineering concepts.

First Lieutenant Douglas Mattei, a member of the team, spoke of the great benefits the program provides. "The STEAM program my commander has initiated is an opportunity to provide academic institutions with a vehicle to engage their students with new resources. In exchange, we are given the precious time needed to explain how the Army National Guard is an organization that serves the community, requires sharp young minds, and is a supplementary route to higher education – we pay for it!"

In addition to Massachusetts and New Jersey, Army National Guard units in Montana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Alabama, New York, and Arizona are now using Pitsco tools to bring STEM opportunities to schools.

Highlights/Multimedia:

  • Click to Tweet: US Army National Guard units across the country engage students using @pitscoed STEM/STEAM products and the Urban Search & Rescue competition. Pitsco.com/USAR
  • Learn more about Pitsco: Pitsco.com
  • Learn more about Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue: Pitsco.com/USAR

 

Pitsco Education is the leading provider of hands-on K-12 STEM solutions. STEM education prepares learners for the future through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and math concepts using relevant hands-on applications to connect school, community, and work. Our various products, activities, curriculum, and solutions promote positive learning experiences and continued classroom success.

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“Young learners benefit from the quality of Pitsco products. The straw rockets, tape measure racers, bridges, KaZoon Kites, as well as straw structure activities allow them to question, explore, wonder, create, and investigate while learning.”

– Rena Mincks, first-grade teacher, Jefferson Elementary, Pullam, Washington

We enable young learners to develop the mind-set, skill set, and tool set needed for future success.

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