By Leon Roberts
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A group of technical experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District participated in Hands-On Science and Engineering Day at Stratford STEM Magnet High School today to guide young students with budding interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Eighth-grade students from Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School and Isaac Litton Middle School joined ninth graders at Stratford for a chance to be mentored by industry leaders stationed in the school's gymnasium. The students moved around the room and asked questions to the community partners, which facilitated learning more about potential academic and career possibilities.
The interaction between the students and industry helps them with making an informed decision when they are in 10th grade and they choose a study pathway, said Dr. Jennifer Berry, academy coach at Stratford STEM Magnet High School.
"This is for the Academy of Science and Engineering where they can choose bio technology, interdisciplinary science, or engineering," she said.
The Nashville District set up four stations and shared their knowledge about floodplains and water management, dam safety, regulatory protection of natural resources, and the role of park rangers who are stewards of the land and water, and lookout for the safety of visitors at Corps projects.
Bill Walker, a geological engineer at the district office in Nashville, and Scott Massa, a geologist from Center Hill Lake, demonstrated how they use instruments to gauge water pressures at various depths to monitor the 10 dams in the Nashville District.
Old Hickory Lake Park Rangers Charlie Leath and Amy Redmond also spoke to the students about their responsibilities and explained how they patrol the lake, work to protect natural resources and manage Corps lands and facilities.
In addition, Ben Rohrbach, chief of the Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch, joined with James LaRosa, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service, to show students how rainwater is managed with detention basins, wetlands, levies and responsible use of lands in floodplains.
Casey Ehorn, regulatory project manager, and Cara Beverly, regulatory specialist, represented the Nashville District Regulatory Division and used a wetland model to demonstrate how water is naturally filtered. They stressed the importance of protecting the nation's waterways and having quality water for future generations.
Beverly said she volunteered to talk with the students because it took her several years in college before she determined what she wanted to do for a career.
"I think the more you get exposed to different career fields the better off it is for you in the long run because you can start thinking about it at an earlier age and kind of direct your path that way," Beverly said. "I didn't know what the Corps of Engineers did at their age, so I think it helps to get our face out there and explain kind of what we do and how we help out in the Nashville area."
The students soaked up the information from the Corps and other corporate partners and left with more knowledge that will help them with making informed decisions about their future.
Patrick Warzynski, a senior in the Academy of Science and Engineering at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, said the activities available to the younger students is valuable because it gives them real-world examples of careers they can get into.
He said the Corps of Engineers booths were very interesting and he liked the water testing demonstration given by Walker and Massa.
"I thought that was really cool, and I ride my bike a lot, and I go down to the dam. It's interesting to see some of the stuff behind it," Warzynski said. "I didn't know anything about how technical it was."
Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander and district engineer, and Maj. Brad Morgan, deputy commander and deputy district engineer, also spent time at the event talking with students and networking with other STEM community partners.
The Nashville District supports STEM programs and is an official partner of the Stratford STEM Magnet High School. For more information, go to the district's STEM Support Page. For more news and information, follow the district on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps.
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