Raytheon-sponsored programs offer lessons in promoting science and math
Kids love math, although some may not know it yet.
Through its sponsorship of extracurricular programs, Raytheon is helping students unlock the excitement and sense of discovery that come from science, technology, engineering and math - the subjects known as STEM. From Centers of Innovation that foster the curiosity of children from military families, to interactive exhibits that reach students all over the world, the company is helping to encourage the next generation of innovators.
"Raytheon's understanding of the opportunities that arise from STEM education led it to support math and science education in practical, valuable ways," said Lou DiGioia, executive director of MATHCOUNTS, a program that sponsors math competitions and clubs. "These programs make these critical subjects fun and engaging, expanding the exposure students get to all the possibilities they represent."
The goals are simple: Inspire young minds. Reveal the possibilities. And most of all, have fun.
Here are the ways they help raise a generation that is enthusiastic about science, technology, engineering and math:
CreatING dedicated facilities
A flight simulator. A hands-on 3-D printer. A build-your-own robot workshop.
That's just a sampling of the technologies for kids available at half a dozen Centers of Innovation, created by Raytheon in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and located on or near military bases. The centers became reality after Raytheon provided BCGA with $5 million in funding, part of the company's $10 million, multi-year commitment to support military families.
So far, there are six Centers of Innovation, serving Joint Base Andrews in Maryland; the Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach in California; Fort Hood in Texas; the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama; the Aberdeen Proving Ground, also in Maryland; and Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“Military families make tremendous sacrifices for our country, but those sacrifices should never include their children losing out on the chance to excel at science, technology, engineering and math,” Raytheon chairman and CEO Thomas A. Kennedy said when the initiative was announced last year. “Through the Centers of Innovation, we are providing resources that will help military youth gain the skills they will need to be successful and make a positive impact on their community.”
It was like Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.
At the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis, Missouri, gangly robots from hundreds of teams of high school students stormed fake castle towers that were guarded by robots built by competing teams. The marauding robots shot foam balls and powered their way through barriers to climb the besieged towers.
More than 20,000 students and adult mentors from 42 countries competed in this year's competition, originally founded by inventor Dean Kamen to foment the spirit of innovation among young men and women. Raytheon sponsored the Tor Bots, from South Torrance High School in California, and repeat world champions Beach Bots, who hail from Hope Chapel Academy in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
After Hope Chapel took the championship this year, their adult mentor, Raytheon engineer Shane Palmerino, described some of the unique challenges that come with their home-built, clashing, clanky contenders: "Our robot fell over twice in one match, but our student drive team was able to use the robot's arm to get back up and continue playing to win," he said.
For more than a decade, Raytheon has sponsored dozens of student FIRST Robotics teams. Yet the company's contributions go beyond those sponsorships. The Raytheon-FIRST Robotics scholarships give $1,000 grants to 40 alumni of the competition who pursue STEM subjects as college undergraduates.
The competition has real impact among the students who participate, according to a study from FIRST Robotics. It found that more than 88 percent of participating students had more interest in school; that 90 percent have more interest in a challenging science or math course; and that 90 percent are more interested in attending college.
Raytheon's involvement in FIRST Robotics is part of a larger initiative called MathMovesU, designed to spark interest in STEM subjects. Through the first decade of MathMovesU, the company invested more than $125 million to improve math and science education.
Quick: Divide 999,999,999 by 32.
Now do it in less than seven seconds.
That's what it takes to be a teenage math champion. When seventh-grader Edward Wan solved that problem in 6.95 seconds, he became the 2016 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS national champion. For his victory, Wan received a $20,000 scholarship, a visit to U.S. Space Camp, and a trip to New York City, where he appeared on the "Live with Kelly and Michael" TV show.
MATHCOUNTS promotes learning and engagement through a series of spelling bee-style competitions for middle schoolers. The 2016 championship, which was the 33rd MATHCOUNTS National Competition and the eighth with Raytheon as the title sponsor, featured 224 math students and took place in Washington, D.C.
The championship follows MATHCOUNTS competitions all over the country. About 140,000 students from all over the United States, its territories, and State and Defense Department schools worldwide participate in MATHCOUNTS contests. The 2017 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition will take place May 13-16 in Orlando, Florida.
Math is the true universal language.
And the proof is MathAlive!, Raytheon's unique, interactive exhibit designed to inspire and introduce students and their families to the excitement of math and science.
The 5,000-square-foot exhibit brings to life the math behind videogames, sports, fashion, robotics and other things that kids love.
The exhibit immerses families in some 40 math-based experiences. They can design (and ride) a snowboard in 3-D; program a robotic arm from the International Space Station; design and play their own videogame; and even capture their own image in 360 degrees. There are simulations of NASA robots, including the Mars Rover, and the opportunity to play engineer, designing a skyscraper and city infrastructure.
"MathAlive! ignites an interest in a subject that many young students find boring, fanning the flames so they want to learn more," said Todd Probert, vice president of mission support and modernization for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, earlier this year. "As a result, we hope to nurture the next generation of engineers and innovators, who will push technology to new frontiers."
The excitement has gone international. In 2014, MatrhAlive debuted a five-year tour through the Middle East, including appearances in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
This year, MathAlive! is conducting its first military tour, beginning in Colorado Springs (home to five military bases) and moving on to Warner-Robins in Georgia, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and the Virginia Air & Space Center.
MakING it hands-on
The crack design team had built a rocket to exacting standards. It had to reach an altitude of 850 feet; it had to fly for 44 to 46 seconds; and it had to safely deliver a delicate payload: Two eggs.
And every one on the five-member team was still in middle school.
At July's Farnborough Airshow in London, the Space Potatoes of Bellevue, Washington, defeated teams from the United Kingdom, France and Japan to take the International Rocketry Challenge championship. Raytheon sponsors the U.S. team.
"Representing the entire country was really intimidating," Mikaela Ikeda, age 12 and team captain, said at the time. "Luckily, we had each other for support and everyone did their jobs perfectly!"
To get to the international contest, the Space Potatoes beat out 5,000 students on 789 teams from across the U.S. to claim first place in the 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge, better known as TARC.
TARC is one of three international competitions that bring together teams of middle and high school students to design and build their own model rockets. They use math and science to create rockets that perform with precision.
"Rocketry requires a strong command of math, a solid foundation of physics and a tremendous amount of patience and determination," said Raytheon CEO Kennedy after last year's contest. "The achievement of these competitors deserves a global stage, and we hope to show other students around the world that hard work and a love for science can lead them to great things.”
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