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Mason Payeur, who will be going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, makes adjustments to his robot at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. "It's been real fun, best camp I've been to this summer," Mason said.
Mason Payeur, who will be going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, makes adjustments to his robot at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. "It's been real fun, best camp I've been to this summer," Mason said. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Mason Payeur, who will be going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, makes adjustments to his robot at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. "It's been real fun, best camp I've been to this summer," Mason said.
Mason Payeur, who will be going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, makes adjustments to his robot at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. "It's been real fun, best camp I've been to this summer," Mason said. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Matthew Taylor, left, who will be entering the eighth grade at Wiesbaden Middle School, and Alex King, who is going into the eighth grade at Kaiserslautern Middle School, watch as their robot attempts to move pingpong balls into their opponent's territory during a game called "Not In My Back Yard." Matthew and Alex were among 40 seventh to ninth grade campers at the recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School's engineering lab.
Matthew Taylor, left, who will be entering the eighth grade at Wiesbaden Middle School, and Alex King, who is going into the eighth grade at Kaiserslautern Middle School, watch as their robot attempts to move pingpong balls into their opponent's territory during a game called "Not In My Back Yard." Matthew and Alex were among 40 seventh to ninth grade campers at the recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School's engineering lab. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A robot sits ready for a warm-up competition at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School in Germany on Aug. 13-17. This school year, pilot STEM programs are expanding to more schools across Department of Defense Education Authority schools, with robotics engineering being added to the most locations.
A robot sits ready for a warm-up competition at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School in Germany on Aug. 13-17. This school year, pilot STEM programs are expanding to more schools across Department of Defense Education Authority schools, with robotics engineering being added to the most locations. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Adam Falk, left, who is going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, and Kendall Green, who is home-schooled and going into the eighth grade, discuss their robot with other campers at a recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School. This school year, DODEA is adding robotics engineering pilot courses to five more schools in Europe, two in the Pacific and one stateside high school.
Adam Falk, left, who is going into the seventh grade at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, and Kendall Green, who is home-schooled and going into the eighth grade, discuss their robot with other campers at a recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School. This school year, DODEA is adding robotics engineering pilot courses to five more schools in Europe, two in the Pacific and one stateside high school. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A robot attempts to cross a teeter-board bridge and dump pingpong balls into an opponent's territory at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School in Germany earlier this month.
A robot attempts to cross a teeter-board bridge and dump pingpong balls into an opponent's territory at the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School in Germany earlier this month. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Mason Payeur, left, who will be in the seventh grade this upcoming school year at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, and Max Johnson, who will be entering the eighth grade at Wiesbaden Middle School, examine a robot during the recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School.
Mason Payeur, left, who will be in the seventh grade this upcoming school year at Wiesbaden Middle School in Germany, and Max Johnson, who will be entering the eighth grade at Wiesbaden Middle School, examine a robot during the recent Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Katie Merchat, who will be a freshman at Kaiserslautern High School in Germany this upcoming school year, makes adjustments to a robot that she designed, programmed and built during the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. Kaiserslautern High School is one of five schools in Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe that will add robotics engineering to its curriculum this school year.
Katie Merchat, who will be a freshman at Kaiserslautern High School in Germany this upcoming school year, makes adjustments to a robot that she designed, programmed and built during the Robotics Summer Day Camp at Wiesbaden High School earlier this month. Kaiserslautern High School is one of five schools in Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe that will add robotics engineering to its curriculum this school year. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A camper's creation is on display at the Robotics Summer Day Camp, held Aug. 13-17 at Wiesbaden High School in Germany. As part of the science, technology, engineering and math initiative, the Department of Defense Education Activity is expanding the locations where STEM-focused courses, including robotics engineering, are offered this upcoming school year.
A camper's creation is on display at the Robotics Summer Day Camp, held Aug. 13-17 at Wiesbaden High School in Germany. As part of the science, technology, engineering and math initiative, the Department of Defense Education Activity is expanding the locations where STEM-focused courses, including robotics engineering, are offered this upcoming school year. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)

WIESBADEN, Germany — With the help of robots and real-world cyber scenarios, Defense Department schools are boosting their efforts to improve students’ science, technology, engineering and math skills with an expanded curriculum.

Last school year, the Department of Defense Education Activity launched a pilot program as part of a nationwide initiative started by President Barack Obama in 2009 to spur students to excel in those fields.

This year, DODEA will offer at least one STEM-based class in robotics engineering, biotechnology engineering, gaming technology and green technology engineering at 18 schools, up from 11 schools last year.

“DODEA’s main goal for STEM education is to increase the number of students, particularly those from traditionally underrepresented groups, who are prepared for post-secondary studies and careers” in the fields of math, science and technology, DODEA spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes.

The biggest increase in STEM offerings this school year is in robotics engineering, tapping into students’ interest in robots. Five schools in Europe, two in the Pacific and one in the U.S. are adding the course to their curriculum.

Wiesbaden and Vilseck high schools recently offered a Robotics Summer Camp for seventh- to ninth-grade students.

Frank Pendzich, a robotics engineering teacher at Wiesbaden High School, pointed out that his campers could have chosen to sleep late but instead chose to spend a week of their summer designing, programming and building robots.

“That intellectual curiosity is really what drives innovation,” Pendzich said. “It gives me hope.”

Faye Batey, instructional system specialist for career and technical education for DODDS-Europe, said the robotics engineering class is an example of using a tool that interests students to teach the engineering design process.

DODEA schools in all three theaters are getting the same training, equipment and materials for the four STEM pilot courses, Batey said.

The schools differ in their STEM events. Batey said the U.S. schools have the advantage of partnering with resources in their immediate area, and each school does its own STEM event, whereas in the Pacific, each of the four districts works on its own. DODDS-Europe introduced a STEMposium last school year that brought together students from all areas. It used military and local resources to provide a real-world scenario to challenge students to solve problems.

“What works best in Europe may not always work in Pacific and vice versa, but we do collaborate,” Batey said.

The military’s relationship with DODEA schools is also helping to promote STEM.

For example, the Wiesbaden-based 5th Signal Command is launching its Cyber STEM Initiative, or CSI-Europe. Kristopher Joseph, 5th Signal Command spokesman, said students will have the chance to work with 5th Signal employees to solve real-world cyber challenges. Joseph said the program will start in Wiesbaden, but the long-term plan is to expand it throughout Europe.

Stars and Stripes reporter Travis Tritten contributed to this report.

pattonm@estripes.osd.mil

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