TOP 6 MILITARY-RUN STEM PROGRAMS FOR KIDS AND TEENS
By Buddy Blouin
The ever-increasing need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) personnel in the military continues to be a focal point of the American Armed Forces. Innovation and technology help keep every branch of our military ahead of our enemies, delivering advanced weaponry, superior defense, imperative intel, and much more. To help boost such skillsets in future troops, different branches offer various STEM programs for kids and teens. These programs help build skills and set up careers that extend far beyond the battlefield.
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6 Military-Affiliated STEM Programs for Kids and TeensSTEM programs for kids are being offered by many organizations with ties to the U.S. military. It’s a great opportunity for those looking to learn more, develop useful skills, and jumpstart their military careers. From after-school programs to online options to summer camps and more, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of the best educational STEM programs for kids available:
1. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)The AEOP is an organization focused on furnishing students and teachers with innovative U.S. Army-sponsored STEM programs extended to students from K through graduate programs. Providing more access to Department of Defense STEM careers is a major initiative, as the need for Americans with such skills is increasing. The Army Educational Outreach Program works to provide educators with the right resources while improving STEM literacy among students.
2. Project Lead the Way (PLTW)Project Lead the Way is in over 12,000 schools featuring 15,000 STEM programs for kids and teens. PLTW helps students by developing them through real-world applications. Technical skills and problem-solving are the cornerstones of their curriculum, helping students grow and setting up teachers with the tools they need to support their classrooms.
3. Middle and High School STEM Camps at West PointSTEM Camps from West Point is a STEM program for kids directly influenced by application in the U.S. Army. The camps happen in the summer and are available for both middle schoolers and high school students.
4. DoD STARBASESponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, DoD STARBASE is an official STEM program from the Department of Defense Youth Program. Not only do students solve real-world problems, but they also interact with a variety of military personnel throughout the 25 programs. The program is available at various military installations, including bases for the Army, USAF, Air Force Reserve, National Guard, and Marine Corps. At its core, DoD STARBASE mainly focuses on fifth graders living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, areas with poor academic performances, or students with disabilities. STARBASE 2.0 will be another project from the DoD aimed at 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It will offer after-school STEM programs for kids with schools that wish to partner with them for additional resources.
5. Defense Department Summer CampsThe DoD has plenty of interesting camps in the summer that bring kids together with military STEM education and adventure. We’ve already explored the DoD STARBASE initiatives, but there are many other opportunities available, including:
- Military Teen Adventure Camps.
- 4-H Military Partnership Camps.
- DoD STEM.
6. AE STEM Kit ProgramThe Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace Education STEM Kit program brings STEM to kids and teens across the country with a hands-on approach. Recipients using the STEM Kit program pay nothing while being provided with resources for hands-on learning with the goal of empowering future workforces. CAP Unit AE Officers (or commanders) and CAP members who are also working in education, such as AFJROTC instructors, can choose from the many options available. Since getting started in 2013, more than 2 million participants using 43,000 STEM Kits have benefited from the program.
Bonus: Project STEMSince 2020, this non-profit, founded in Detroit, MI, has been providing students with the opportunity to explore the world of STEM-related careers. Project STEM offers online courses for free to children in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Though not connected specifically to the military, this is a great option for students looking for opportunities. Free online STEM programs for kids that are educational and accessible will continue to play a big role in the future of STEM in the military and beyond.
Can STEM Classes for Kids Improve Recruitment?With up to 75% of U.S. youth ineligible for military service, the already struggling branches of the military have serious problems in terms of recruitment that continue to persist. The recruitment goals of the U.S. military for 2030 are already in jeopardy, and a push for educational excellence is needed for more potential troops to qualify for enlistment. Extracurricular STEM programs for kids are often looked at as a way to generate interest in such careers down the line or keep kids out of trouble. But they can also hold the key to national security in the not-so-distant future. STEM programs for kids and teens that are run by the military or organizations with military ties are a great starting point in helping industries, citizens looking to develop new skills, and the U.S. military fill its branches with troops capable of high-level skills.
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