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Team Sheppard demonstrates STEAM power at fair

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 82nd Training Wing and the 80th Flying Training Wing participated in a STEAM fair at Overton Ray Elementary School in Burkburnett, Texas, February 22, 2024. They spoke to around 120 children about how studying science, technology, engineering, aerospace and mathematics can lead to an exciting Air Force career in fields like aviation or Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

As always, Team Sheppard brought the goods as pilots, including 1st Lt. Sonya Datta, helped students try on aircraft flight equipment and try out virtual reality headsets as she discussed what it was like to be a woman in aviation. Close by, Tech. Sgt. Brent Points, EOD Team Leader Course Instructor, operated an EOD robot used to de-arm or move explosives to the thrill of children and adults alike. Staff Sgt. Tristan Harris of the Wichita Falls USAF Recruiting Office provided USAF/US Space Force water bottles, lanyards, pens and other items that were a big hit as well.

According to Points, EOD and STEAM are inseparable and he always enjoys the opportunity to showcase the career field.

“Our robots are always a massive hit with the kids at any event, but to see all the technology and engineering that go into our gear, especially our brand-new robot, the Harris T7, really engages their minds and they will talk with you for hours about it,” he said. “These kids could be the next generation of EOD techs and it was a delight to be there with Capt Carlson and my family. Overton Ray really put on a great event.

Capt. Thomas Carlson, Air Force Logistics Officer School Instructor, and member of the Sheppard AFB Air Show STEAM Committee, saw the fair as an opportunity to reach students early in their academic career and show them there is a career in the Air Force for anyone with the desire to Aim High.

“Tech. Sgt. Brent Points did a fantastic job showing over one hundred children the piece of equipment he operates and what its capabilities are,” he said. “Not only did he articulate well about the robot, but more importantly encouraged the children to be excited about technology and different pieces of equipment that they can one day operate, design or even build. 1st Lt. Sonya Datta, one of Sheppard Air Show’s Guardians of Freedom, talked with young men and women about joining the USAF and what it was like being a woman in aviation. She handed out the USAF and Space Force shirts, patches and towels to those she spoke with and encouraged the children. After speaking with Tech. Sgt. Points and 1st Lt. Datta, I saw the expressions on the children’s faces as they were walking away thinking, ‘Wow, that person looks like me and I can be just like them one day!’”

Carlson plans to extend that message during the pre-air show STEAM Day in April.

“We are very excited to share an even larger piece of what it means to serve and who we are with the local community on Friday, April 26th during our STEAM day,” he said. “Burkburnett and Wichita Falls ISD sophomores and juniors, as well as students in local organizations such as Scouting, Civil Air Patrol, JROTC, homeschools, and CASA, are invited onto base to see inside the classrooms where some of our newest members of the USAF are learning about advanced STEAM concepts.”

The Sheppard Guardians of Freedom Air Show will be on April 27-April 28, 2024.