Pax volunteers to exhibit, lend a hand at naval air museum STEAM event

Visitors to the Technology and Arts Expo at Naval Air Museum Patuxent River Feb. 10 will have the opportunity to climb aboard NAWCAD’s FabLab, a mobile trailer with equipment that helps scientists and engineers solve problems and technical issues.

Volunteers from across NAS Patuxent River will lend their expertise and assistance at the Technology and Arts Expo hosted by the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum (PRNAM) Saturday, Feb. 10.

Open to the public for the cost of museum admission, the expo will introduce and reaffirm Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) concepts to museum guests.

“In November 2016, we participated in the Maryland STEM festival but, this year, due to scheduling conflicts, we decided to hold our own event,” explained Dan Bramos, V-22 ITT Supportability T&E lead, who also acts as the museum’s Vice President of Activities. “After some discussion, museum administration and our major contributing sponsor decided to be inclusive of the arts to include those students who might otherwise feel excluded if they are not directly involved in a STEM curriculum.”

Engage and inspire with Raspberry Pi

Ellen Servetnick is the team lead for the NAWCAD Educational Outreach Office whose mission is to provide meaningful educational opportunities in STEM fields for students in our communities. These opportunities might include single day curriculum-based visits to Pax River to meet with subject matter experts or weeklong in-depth summer camps where participants can learn about the different fields of engineering and computer programming languages.

“We want students to be inspired by these experiences and encourage them to pursue STEM opportunities,” she noted.

At the expo, Servetnick and other members of her office will be demonstrating Raspberry Pi, a small affordable mini-computer that helps students learn programming.

“We have experiences planned that will capture their attention and let them participate with a hands-on activity,” she said. “We engage the current generation and inspire future scientists and engineers.”

See what FabLab can do

NAWCAD’s Mobile Digital Fabrication Laboratory, or FabLab, is a place where makers can take their ideas from concept to prototype for projects involving rapid prototyping, accelerated modeling and collaborative learning opportunities.

“FabLab brings 3D printing, CNC milling, laser cutting and other capabilities to the organization to foster a collision of ideas between creative, innovative and diverse individuals in a space where they can create, experiment, prototype, test, and evaluate new concepts to solve Fleet problems and challenges,” explained Denise Cifone, NAWCAD Strategic Operations and Initiatives.

Members of the NAWCmADe Innovation Team will be providing expo visitors an overview of how the equipment within the FabLab operates and describe some of its current successes.

“We know the ease of connecting and establishing a social networking venue is huge in being able to be creative, and we’re working hard to help provide a venue to breakdown some of those barriers,” Cifone added. “That will allow for more freedom to research without constraints, thus providing information sharing.”

Putting the ‘A’ in STEAM

As a contracted flight test photographer working with Naval Test Wing Atlantic squadrons, what Liz Wolter does is a combination of science, technology and art — and that fits perfectly with this year’s expo theme, “Full STEAM Ahead.”

“The successful combination of science, technology and art allow me to effectively plan, execute and provide world-class photography here at NAS Patuxent River,” she said. “The benefit the ‘arts’ bring to the STEM fields has not always been understood and my goal is to educate participants about my field of art photography and how it applies to the disciplines of science and technology, and hope they walk away motivated and inspired.”

Wolter plans to discuss her role as a flight test photographer, allow participants to try on the flight gear she’s required to wear when shooting photos from the back of F/A-18s, provide a slideshow of her released U.S. Navy photos, offer advice on improving photography skills and DSLR camera usage, and even sign some autographs.

Assisting where needed

Gayle Nevis, her husband Joe and their daughter Erika are planning to show up at the expo early, stay late to help clean up, and do whatever else is necessary in between.

“My family and I feel that volunteering and giving back to the community is very important; if you want to make things better, you need to start where you live,” said Nevis, a contractor working with a Pax River squadron. “We’re trained volunteers for the [museum’s] flight simulators, but we’ll fill in where and when we’re needed — from running coloring stations to being a gopher to manning a puzzle station to anything in between. We enjoy learning and helping out.”

What else to expect at the expo

The exhibitors will be housed in PRNAM’s newest Test and Evaluation Hall, which tells the story of naval aviation at Pax River and houses five full-sized aircraft; the older Flight and Technology Hall, which features the UAV gallery, ejection seat and engine galleries, flight simulators, and two cockpits guests can sit in; and also outside on the flight line, if weather permits.

“There will be an enclosure for performing live drone demonstrations and all kinds of hands-on activities such as building your own LEGO satellite with NASA, coloring with “aerocature” artist Hank Caruso, a model rocket building class, and learning the mechanics of sailing, among other things,” Bramos said. “There will also be items donated by our exhibitors raffled off at the end of the day.”

Event day parking is available at the museum and down the road in the Exploration building complex, noted Bramos. Admission is $9 for adults; $7 active-duty (with ID) and dependents; $7 seniors 55 and older; $4 ages 5-12; free for 4 years and younger.

For more information or posted updates about the event, go to the museum’s website at www.paxmuseum.org ; Facebook at Facebook.com/paxmuseum; or Twitter @paxmuseum.