OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
“This is actually a lot of fun!” exclaimed a Korean middle school student after launching her first simulated rocket into space. This is the type of reaction you hope for when teaching young students about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and even more so when a language barrier is involved.
Over the last few weeks, the MiG Alley Air Force Association Chapter located in the Republic of Korea has been conducting a space camp for 20 Korean and American middle school students. The space camp falls under the chapter’s Korea Science & Technology Education Platform (KSTEP), a STEM outreach program the chapter recently stood up for local students. Every Saturday morning a group of volunteers from the chapter meets in the Osan Air Base library and conducts a two-hour class covering the basics of flight, aerodynamics, and physics. The camp is a seven-week course designed around the Kerbal Space Program computer game with the final week consisting of a competition where scholarships and other prizes will be given out. Throughout the duration of the course, the students learn how to build a multistage rocket, put a payload into orbit, and then return the capsule safely to Earth.
A local AFA member and volunteer instructor, 1st Lt. Kevin Long, explains, “The goal of the program is to show students that science is cool and inspire them to pursue a career in a STEM field.” He added, “The bonus is that we get to bring students from both countries together to interact and learn, strengthening the US-ROK alliance.”
The chapter is aiming to teach students the importance of problem solving, goal setting, and team building in an environment that is unlike anything most middle school students experience. The intangibles these students are learning just by working side-by-side students from a different country and who speak a different language are immeasurable.
The MiG Alley Chapter plans to make this program a continuous effort, with their next class scheduled to being in June 9, 2018. The class is open to middle school aged ROK and U.S. students from local military bases and the surrounding communities.
For more information about the program contact U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jorge Rullonrodriguez at 0505-784-5995.