Friday, November 27



Book inspires young students to STEM careers

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A new book, Innovators – Rock Stars of STEM, introduces young people to some of the most important innovators of our time working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Air Force Research Lab in northwest Florida.  Together with Engineers for America and the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation, award-winning author Martha J LaGuardia-Kotite’s new book will inspire students in elementary and middle schools to consider STEM careers of their own.

“The timing is critical for future generations and the workforce,” says Paul Maryeski, Executive Director,
Air Force Armament Museum Foundation.  “According to an international student assessment of 34 developed countries, the United States performed below average in math and was ranked 27th in 2012.  The United States’ science scores placed 20th and reading at 17th place among top ranked countries, which include Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Estonia, Germany, Slovenia, France and the UK, according to the OECD-PISA (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development with Programme for International Student Assessment) report.”

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Innovators, one of the only books of its kind, will be distributed to Okaloosa Country elementary and middle schools in support of STEM and programs like Engineers for America.  Within the next month, the 32-page hardcover book will be offered to schools nationally and on-line for purchase.

Innovator’s celebrates women and men from diverse educational backgrounds.  Encouraging young adults, even those who may not pursue a PhD, to think about careers in science and math. This fresh approach will inspire others and features Dr. Nydeia Bolden-Frazier, a research scientist who works on self-healing materials used in weapons repair, Ken Blackburn, known around the world as the “paper airplane guy” who held a Guinness Book of World Records, “MAC” McClenahan, an engineering technician who did not go to college yet transformed with his innovations:  the Air Force’s big guns, bombs and robots, and Dr. Mikel Miller, an expert in navigation shares his insights on how Global Positioning Systems changed our world – from cell phones to satellites – one signal at a time.

Engineers for America is a joint educational program developed and implemented by the Armament Museum Foundation and the Okaloosa School District.  Elementary and middle school students perform scientific experiments at the STEMM Center in Valparaiso and then go on a motivational tour of exhibits at the Armament Museum.  The experiments called “sorties” are based on scientific principles and involve analysis and problem solving.  The exhibits at the museum serve as real world examples of engineering success.  The Program is designed to encourage student towards careers in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Martha J LaGuardia-Kotite is a journalist who has written numerous books including the award-winning So Others May Live.  A graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and a captain in the reserves, she holds a master degree in journalism from Harvard.

Pictured above:
Mary Beth Jackson, Superintendent of the Okaloosa School District, Dr Nydeia Bolden Frazier, Ken Blackburn, two of the four Rock Stars from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Eglin Air Force Base, and LtGen Gordon Fornell, Chairman, Engineers for America Program.  Dr Mikel Miller and Charles “Mac” McClenahan from AFRL also contributed.  In the book, the four Stars share their individual STEM experiences.  Their personal drive and focus on solving problems stand out and serve as motivational examples for the young students.


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