As part of its focus on promoting student interest in the sciences, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) highlighted nine educational partnerships at the Naval Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Forum held June 15-16 in Alexandria, Va.


Tara Chklovski, founder and chief executive of Iridescent, was among nonprofits that received funding from ONR. Her organization used the financial backing, in part, to create two "smart" phone applications, or apps (Build a Bird and Clean Marine), new technologies that she hopes will steer young minds toward STEM careers.


"The smart phone environment is one that lends itself to some topics in particular," Chklovski said of the free Android app that was shown at the forum for the first time and hit the market June 15. "A user can manipulate an airplane, bird or glider through a fluid medium by tilting the phone and intuitively understand how the fluid interacts with the flying or swimming object. This level of understanding is not possible to achieve through text, pictures, animations or simulations."

ONR also announced eight other key partnerships with organizations that focus on kindling student interest in STEM disciplines. They include Sally Ride Science and its Gulf Coast initiative in teacher training, as well as the National Math and Science effort, which offers more Advanced Placement courses in schools serving military families. This is part of a larger effort called Joining Forces supported by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Twin Cities Public Television will create a customized episode of its award winning SciGirls TV series "SciGirls at Sea: A Navy SeaPerch Adventure." SciGirls is designed to inspire girls' interest in STEM activities.

All Shades of Navy is a program implemented by Expanding Your Horizons that introduces young women to Navy careers. Professional women in STEM-related roles share their experiences and offer hands-on activities to engage young women in grades 6-12.

The Youth Exploring Science (YES) program, based out of the St. Louis Science Center, provides at-risk high school students with internship and employment opportunities, academic support and life skills training. YES gives students the chance to participate in STEM activities while in a work-based environment. Through its partnership with the Navy, the YES program will expand its model to other science centers across the country.

The Navy's support of Gooru will lead to the implementation of an online learning and teaching tool to improve the STEM education experience of students from elementary schools through college level. Students learn through virtual lesson plans, digital textbooks and by partnering with the Naval Research Laboratories to bring scientists and engineers to the classroom.

Additionally, ONR, through the ASM Materials Education Foundation, will train 1,260 high school STEM teachers from the Gulf Coast region in materials sciences, which can be readily incorporated into their physical science classrooms.

Through its partnership of the Botball Educational Robotics Program, ONR will continue its strong support of robotics programs, reaching an additional 1,600 students and 180 teachers across the country.

The Naval STEM forum gathered more than 650 government, business and military leaders to collaborate on ways to counter U.S. students' dwindling interest in STEM careers as well as introduce awareness of the Navy's educational initiatives.

SOURCE: Office of Naval Research