Neal Math and Science Academy participated in the 3rd annual Midwest Regional SeaPerch Competition held at the USS Indianapolis Combat Training Pool at Recruit Training Command (RTC) March 18.
For these middle schoolers, it was more than just a chance to head to the national finals in Atlanta. Teacher Kelly O’Connor said they had a chance to build life-long relationships and learn from Sailors assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL).
“Their participation, motivation and involvement with our students have been remarkable and incredible,” O’Connor said. “The relationships they built with our students and the level of expertise that they brought in to work with our students after school has been really rewarding to our kids and us as teachers.”
Sailors from the Surface Warfare Officers School Unit (SWOSU) at NSGL are paired with Neal Academy through the Partnership in Education Program (PEP). This program provides opportunities for commands at NSGL to work with local schools in an effort to help children to their fullest potential in the areas of education and civic responsibility.
Leading Petty Officer at NSGL Community Outreach, MM1 Jamane Coleman said, “PEP offers volunteering opportunities at local schools for military members and civilian employees assigned to tenant commands at Naval Station. Our goal is to help nurture the intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth of local students.”
GSM2 Class Emily Newman, was one of the SWOSU Sailors that volunteered their time and expertise to help these students with preparing for the competition and in other educational aspects.
“I originally wanted to help out with tutoring and I found out about STEM and that it deals with engineering,” said Newman. “That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years and I got excited about that. Going through the process of building their SeaPerch and having them test it in the pool was an awesome experience, and seeing how excited they were was a great feeling.”
O’Connor says that the completion of SeaPerch for these kids was on March 21 when they received recognition in front of their entire school, along side their SWOSU counterparts, for their participation in the competition.
“Each morning we have a school meeting. The students were presented with certificates and received recognition as their names were called and they were applauded by all the staff and students,” said O’Connor. “The students were proud and it was a great way to give them positive recognition for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in front of the whole school.”