FIRST Educators Tour inspires teachers, students

  • Published
  • By Halle Thornton
  • 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 24 teachers from around the country came to Schriever Air Force Base as part of the FIRST Educators Tour, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, hopes to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in mentor-based research and robotics programs.

Since the program’s foundation by Dean Kamen in 1989, the program’s priority has been “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

FIRST is proven to encourage students to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their work-life skills.

Since 2014, the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service has brought more than 100 STEM educators to visit Schriever.

Attendees engaged with Airmen and leadership to see how STEM is involved in base operations.

The base tour began with a “lunch with leadership” in the Satellite DISH dining facility with Col. Stephen Slade, 310th Operations Group commander, who briefly discussed why he joined the U.S. Air Force, and why he believes STEM is so important to Schriever.

Slade explained how although he has never been a math or science guy, the Air Force has a great need for minds that are STEM-oriented and the FIRST Educators Tour is a step in the right direction.

“We require folks who are STEM qualified, and I thank you for what you are doing in your schools,” he said.

Slade explained the hi-tech nature of what the Air Force does and how it needs Airmen who are not only talented in STEM, but are willing to go the extra mile to support the mission.

“Kids today have great minds and we need to leverage that,” Slade said. “You also need to push them a little bit and tell them they can do this.”

After lunch, attendees sat in on a mission briefing led by Capt. Kyle Rimando, 50th Space Communications Squadron director of operations, where teachers were given the opportunity to learn about the base mission and its various organizations.

The tour proceeded to the 2nd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons, and made a final stop at the 527th Space Aggressors Squadron, where attendees witnessed firsthand technical demonstrations like bomb detonations.

Bo Bradbury, senior vice president and group account director of GSD&M, which develops, executes and manages marketing programs, advertising and special events in support of recruiting at the national, regional and local markets, was just as impressed with the visit as he has been in previous years.

Bradbury has visited Schriever three or four times for this particular tour, and is always surprised by how much the base does in relation to STEM.

“They (teachers) were so impressed by all the Air Force does and the Airmen they met; also, after seeing the security at Schriever firsthand, many commented how appreciative they were that the Air Force allowed the visit,” he said.   

Timothy Hanson, Air Force Recruiting Service chief of strategic marketing division, has been a part of the planning meeting and has been to Schriever, but has never participated in an educators tour before.

“Frankly, we were very pleased with the advance preparations that made access and movement seem very simple even though we know it was not,” he said. “Overall, it was great, and we thank you sincerely for making it happen.”

When asked about how attendees felt after the tour, Hanson said there were several phenomenal personnel who spoke to the guests about STEM.

“I think the educators were impressed with the jobs 50th Space Wing personnel do every day,” he continued. “They left with a new appreciation for what our young Airmen do for this country.”