On August 5, 2009, Deanna and I drove to Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey to attend the closing ceremony for the Communications, Electronics, Research, Development, Engineering Command (CERDEC) Math & Science Summer Camp. The camp is a part of the Army's efforts to facilitate programs for our nation's youth designed to encourage interest and participation in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM).
After a great dinner on the beach (necessary after driving the same 10-mile radius for over an hour trying to find the hotel!), we settled in for the night eager for the ceremony the next morning.
We woke up to a rainy day in New Jersey, but that didn't dampen the spirits of the ceremony's attendees. We set up our booth at the Officer's Club, complete with brochures, posters, light-up pens (always a hit!) and the trivia board. We were one of only two exhibitors, so we were able to have a lot of interaction with the ceremony's attendees.
Soon we had many particpants, both parents and students, at our table, running through every question on the trivia board. The questions are tough, but they were able to answer most of them correctly! We sent quite a few trivia players away with an eCYBERMISSION T-shirt in hand. We were happy to hear that many of the people we spoke with were already familiar with our program.
The ceremony was attended by the CERDEC laboratory staff and Outreach Program Office, as well as the camp attendees and their parents. The attendees received certificates for their participation in the camp, and we heard about the cool projects they worked on using the Materials World Module (MVM), an interactive science-centered program developed by Northwestern University and the Department of Defense. It was neat to see the activities the camp conducted as they're very similar in nature to eCYBERMISSION's new Scenario Challenge.
In addition to learning about the camp and meeting with the students and their parents, we were able to spend some time talking with Bob Zanzalari, CERDEC Associate Director, and Erica Fineman-Bertoli, Program Director of CERDEC Outreach. It was a great opportunity to learn about their outreach initiatives and discuss how we can tie in eCYBERMISSION.
On a side note, on the way back home we stopped at Shaka in Long Branch, NJ - hands-down the best Mexican food I've ever eaten - and they have bamboo surfboards for tables and a washer and dryer for the trash cans. Definitely a memorable restaurant! Here's a picture of the "trash cans":
This was a great trip and a successful outreach opportunity for us. We're excited for next year, when the camp grows its Maryland participation from the Aberdeen Proving Ground area. We hope to see all the kids then to hear about next year's camp projects - and in the meantime, we hope they all participate in eCYBERMISSION this year!