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March 10, 2011

MCPS forms partnership with Navy

by Srividya Murthy, Print Managing News Editor
MCPS middle and high school students have started to contribute to Navy-based science and engineering projects as a result of a partnership signed between Montgomery County and Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division. This is the first partnership between the Navy and Montgomery County and was entered at a signing ceremony on Jan. 24 at Shady Grove Innovation Center in Rockville, Maryland.

The partnership entailed a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with the Montgomery County government as well as two Educational Partnership Agreements with MCPS and Montgomery College. The agreements were made to provide opportunities for local schools and businesses to collaborate with NSWC Carderock and share its research expertise and technology.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, NSWC Carderock Division Commanding Officer Chris D. Meyer, MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast and Montgomery College Interim Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Services Paula Matuskey all attended the signing ceremony.

The MCPS agreement with NSWC Carderock will help promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach programs for kindergarten through 12th grade students and add hands-on aspects to MCPS technology curriculum, according to K-12 Science, Technology and Engineering Supervisor, Anita O'Neill.

For example, this year, students from six middle schools participated in a program called Sea Perch as a part of their technology classes and were able to design and test underwater remotely operated vehicles to clean up simulated oil spills. Students at Poolesville High School were able to test and use water gliders provided by the Navy. MCPS will be working to produce high school and middle school science curricula that will integrate the gliders as well as other Navy devices, said O'Neill.

The contract will also strengthen science education by allowing teachers to play an active role in developing integrated programs for schools. Last summer, teachers from multiple disciplines attended NSWC Carderock's High School STEM Institute and gained insight on how to bring greater practical relevance to topics they taught in the classroom.

The agreement will support professional development and training for STEM teachers and will bring professional engineers from the Navy to volunteer and assist STEM instruction in schools, according to O'Neill. It will also bring mentors and programs to students at all levels, said Latoya Graddy, head of the Media Relations and Public Affairs at NSWC Carderock Division.

Graddy said that these opportunities will stimulate young interest in STEM education and can also introduce students to possible careers in the Navy. "Another goal is showing how STEM can lead to rewarding civilian Department of Defense careers," he said. The STEM programs will not only prepare the next generation of Navy employees, but also benefit the country by inspiring students to pursue interests in science and engineering, she said.

The PIA between Montgomery County and NSWC Carderock will also allow the NAVY and local companies to work together on commercialization of technology and improving research at Carderock, according to Fizie Haleem, managing director of technology transfer and commercialization programs in Montgomery County. The Educational Partnership Agreement between Montgomery College and NSWC Carderock will help encourage science interest at the college level and give internship opportunities to students to train in the laboratory, according to internship coordinator at Montgomery College, Michael Mehalick.



STEM programs



The agreement with NSWC Carderock will bring students different STEM programs depending on grade level, allowing them to build and test ROVs and robots, as well as participate in mathematics competitions. Programs include Lego We-Do, Lego Mindstorms and other robotic programs. While specific programs and opportunities vary according to each school's need, students can receive information about participating in these programs from the Science and Technology department at their school.




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