Museum’s STEM event focuses on science, education

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Despite several inches of snow falling and hampering road conditions, more than 2,400 people joined Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and his wife Fran and Air Force Research Laboratory Commander, Maj. Gen. William Cooley, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during a Science, Discovery and Family Fun event Jan. 13.

The event, which was free and open to the public, featured interactive science and technology displays and demonstrations, musical performances by the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight and All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, and an interactive animal presentation by the Columbus Zoo.

The event opened with the national anthem followed by remarks by both Cooley and DeWine.

“The United States Air Force was born from technology; it is part of our DNA,” said Cooley. “The need for the best scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians is strong today and will only continue to increase,” he added.

Cooley went on to say how STEM helps the Air Force develop the capabilities we need for the future and that “ultimately, this is about supporting our national defense strategy with the Air Force we need – one that is more lethal and ready.”

DeWine followed up by voicing his support of STEM workforce development initiatives and their importance to the state of Ohio.

“There is nothing more important than the education of our children and the Air Force has committed real dollars and real people to do this,” DeWine said.

Following DeWine, his wife Fran made a few comments about the importance of STEM careers and of having more “thinkers, dreamers, and innovators here in Ohio.”

“While the demand for students in STEM fields is exploding, not enough students are pursuing careers in the STEM areas, despite their earnings averaging 26 percent more than non-STEM related careers,” she said.

After the formal presentation, interactive demonstrations were featured by the museum, Air Force Research Laboratory, colleges and universities from throughout the state, Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, National Aviation Heritage Alliance and Greene County Library. Robotics, virtual reality, flight simulation, wind tunnel, rocketry, optics, fuel cells, engineering structures and scanning electron microscopes were among the STEM demos.

In addition, the Air Force Museum Foundation provided visitors virtual reality and simulator rides throughout the day free of charge.