ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., -- As part of the District’s growing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, 70 students from two area schools gathered at the District’s main office Feb. 12, 2014, to learn more about the importance of STEM and some of the various ways these subjects are essential in what the Corps of Engineers does on a daily basis.
Tom Bueno, project manager in the District’s Military Section, explained how it takes a team of people with skills in STEM subjects to complete the expansion and upgrade work the District is doing at Cannon Air Force Base. Tom Plummer, a project manager in the District’s International and Interagency Support Section, engaged students with the wonderful properties of water and why water quality matters. Dewey Mann, electrical engineer with Honeywell, captured student’s attention with his presentation on Aerospace and Electrical Engineering, explaining how there are two kinds of lift on wings and showing video demonstrating aerodynamic principles.
Beverly Noel, chief of the District’s Operations Support Branch, spoke about her career as a Park Ranger and how those interested in natural resources can work with the Corps to protect endangered species, educate the public and improve public lands for future generations. She involved the students by having them identify which bird a feather belonged to.
Jennifer Schuetz; science coordinator for the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, spoke about what BEMP does to restore, protect and improve the Bosque in the middle Rio Grande. She brought props to help students learn how to measure ground water levels which is important for plants, especially the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande. Students took advantage of the opportunity to take measurements using a sensor designed to hum when it reaches the groundwater.
Andrew Trainor, a chemist in the District’s Environmental Engineering Section, finished the afternoon with a lively and interactive chemistry demonstration. To demonstrate the Leidenfrost effect, he poured liquid nitrogen (at a temperature around -200C) on his arm.
“My arm (temperature around 36.8C) is significantly hotter than the boiling point of liquid nitrogen, (-196 C),” Trainor said. “The liquid nitrogen evaporates before it comes into contact with my arm. This creates an insulating layer of nitrogen vapor that prevents the liquid nitrogen from contacting my arm, preventing any harm,” he said.
Trainor also demonstrated how temperature affects texture. He poured liquid nitrogen on a bowl of marshmallows and let the students feel the change in texture.
District Commander, Lt. Col. Antoinette R. Gant concluded the afternoon, asking students what they learned and encouraging them to study STEM subjects, especially Math and Science which apply to a myriad of life situations.
The middle and high school students attend the SAMS (Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science) Academy and T'siya Day School (Zia Day School). The SAMS academy teaches grades 7-12 using an integrative STEM educational model, with a focus on aeronautics. The T'siya Day School is a public school serving students in kindergarten to eighth grade.
(Photos by Elizabeth Lockyear)