A corpsman with Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (NMCCL) holds a petri dish filled with a red gel, discussing the difference between bacterial and viral infections with a group of middle school students. The scientific discussion with Camp Lejeune’s Brewster Middle School on April 12 is part of NMCCL’s annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair.
Twice a year, NMCCL’s STEM Team hosts STEM Fairs in an effort to introduce local students not only to the different elements of STEM found within the medical center, but also introducing students to potential career fields within the Navy they could pursue in the future.
Using 10 stations, corpsmen from across the medical center discussed and demonstrated to the students subjects such as industrial hygiene, simulation lab components, cast creation, basic physical therapy techniques and biomedical engineering.
“The STEM Fair is part of the push to train our future workforce and our future Naval officers and enlisted staff,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kellye Donovan, STEM coordinator. “A lot of what makes our operational forces functional involves science, technology and math, so all of our military treatment facilities are encouraged to have STEM coordinators to have local school sources and community resources come on site and explore science and mathematical concepts.”
NMCCL has been hosting STEM Fairs for local and Department of Defense Education Activity schools since 2016. Currently, the medical center works with Camp Lejeune schools and Onslow County Schools, but hopes to expand its reach to other surrounding counties as well, Donovan said.
Many of the more than 130 students present at the fair on April 12 were interested in areas other than the medical field; however, that may have changed after interacting with some of the stations.
“It [STEM Fair] helps you determine what you’re interested in,” said eighth-grader Alex Quackenbush. “It also maybe opens up new fields that you didn’t know about beforehand so that if you see something cool you’ll look into and maybe pursue that.”
To wrap up the event, students were shown a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) demonstration by NMCCL’s Staff Education and Training team. The TCCC demonstration reiterated the importance of medical training as well as the kind of training the very individuals teaching the various stations must complete to be a member of the Navy.
NMCCL hosts two STEM events each year, welcoming both community and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune schools. The next STEM event is scheduled for May 4 with more than 200 Onslow County students expected to attend.