Lawrence High School students got to take a break from the classroom and experience a potential look into the future thanks to the United States Army.
An army STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) truck visited the Cedarhurst school on Feb. 28, the only and first Long Island visit, according to high school Principal Dr. Jennifer Lagnado-Papp.
The STEM truck experience is an interactive exhibit that showcases high-tech capabilities and opportunities that exist within that branch of the military.
The truck has three dark rooms. Visitors spend roughly five minutes in each room. In the first room, you are taken 13 years into the future to the year 2032, the screen is playing news clips that show a radical terrorist group threatening world peace.
Room No. 2 consisted of the students being introduced to SARAH, a robot being developed by the Army to help complete difficult tasks in hazardous environments. In the third room, the guests are asked to team up to face timed challenges that deal with science, technology, engineering and math. A scoreboard keeps the tally, giving the participants some bragging rights if they are the most successful team.
Army Sgt. FC James Horace and Sgt. FC Derrick French are in charge of the truck that came to the Five Towns. Horace noted why the students find the STEM stimulating. “Most of the kids like the video game-based simulation, so that’s what makes it popular among students,” Horace said. “There are 13 STEM trucks nationwide and six of them travel around the northeastern part of the country.”
Horace also noted how STEM gives students exposure to potential post-high school career opportunities with the U.S. Army as the military branch specializes in looking for people that have exposed to or have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Lagnado-Papp said that the idea to have the STEM truck visit the school came from some teachers and staff. “When we learned of what the STEM truck was, we thought it would be a wonderful thing for our students to experience,” she said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the armed forces and I think that definitely helped bring them here since they are very selective with what schools they schedule the truck for.”
When asked about the army truck possibly coming back to Lawrence High School, Lagnado-Papp was all for it. “I believe that this was a positive experience for our students with the interactive exhibit,” she said. “I definitely would like them to come back again.”