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Local students experience AF STEM in Mobility’s Hometown

people walk past an aircraft

Children from Synder Public Schools walk past a KC-135 Stratotanker, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The children were able to see all three aircraft assigned to the wing, the KC-135, KC-46 Pegasus, and C-17 Globemaster III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

a child looks out of a window.

A child of Synder Public Schools waves out of a window to the cargo area of a C-17 Globemaster III, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Tours like this allow a better understanding of the armed forces and a special opportunity to see what happens on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

kids are gathered around a table

Children from Synder Public Schools play with catipults they made, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Different activaties available for the students to interact with included building a catapults, cup gliders, and rocket cars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

children operate a simulator.

Children from Synder Public Schools look at a KC-135 Stratotanker Boom Operator Weapon Systems Trainer, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Activities were chosen to showcase the application of STEM and the practicality it has in the armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

a man shows children the screen to a simulator.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Serjey Ficeli, Air Mobility Command Detachment 2 simulator certificaiton specalist, shows the controls of the KC-135 Boom Operator Weapon Systems Trainer, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. STEM allows Airmen to upgrade or update practices and processes to make tomorrow’s Air Force faster and smarter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Members of the Altus AFB Airmen Leadership Group hosted several science, technology, engineering, and math activities also known as STEM for a group of third through eighth-grade students from Snyder Public Schools, April 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base.

The Wing Innovation Advancement Center partnered with the base library to build and supply materials for the children to use during their STEM activities. The WIAC is a location where Airmen can learn new skills to upgrade or improve practices and processes to make tomorrow’s Air Force faster and smarter.

“Thinking differently than our predecessor is the essence of today’s Air Force Airman,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Royer, 97th Air Mobility WIAC superintendent. “Fostering their creative spirit and helping them solve problems is my job.”

While at the WIAC the group built catapults, cup gliders, and rocket cars. Afterward, they toured the three aircraft assigned to the wing and observed how boom operators operate in a KC-135 Stratotanker simulator. All of these activities showcased STEM in action and the practical applications it has in the military.

"The technology the Air Force uses is insane," said Konnor Carothers, an eighth-grader from Snyder Public Schools. "I enjoyed the activities we did together but seeing the planes is what I enjoyed the most. I've never been in an airplane before and had no idea they had anything like this out here. I feel lucky to have seen it.”

Some of the capabilities at the center include 3D printers, computers for 3D modeling, computer numerical control machines, and laser cutters. These tools and techniques are all here to make Mobility’s Hometown a more capable and ready force.

"Without STEM classes or opportunities," said Kaleb Knott, Snyder STEM Program Lead. "People will never know what they're capable of, or what opportunities are out there. I think it makes a tremendous impact on the decisions they make about the career fields they go into."

Many STEM events have been held in the past and featured the capabilities and responsibilities of the Airmen of the 97th AMW. Events like this allow for a better understanding of the armed forces and a special opportunity to see what happens on base.

“We appreciate the Air Force volunteering to spend time with the students,” said Knott. “Most people will never in their lifetimes get to see or touch these things. Being able to be hands-on with them is very special. They had fun, they learned a lot and I'm greatly appreciative and Snyder Public Schools is too.”

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