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The dedicated and intelligent men and women in the military, in government, in academia and in industry have always been the key to the US Navy’s undersea dominance. Without a first-rate education system, the Navy would not be able to recruit the best and brightest to operate submarines, nor would industry have the scientists and engineers to design and build them. The Naval Submarine League has always supported that system in many different ways, most recently last year.

In November 2010, the League helped sponsor a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) event, run by the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Submarines (PEO SUBS) that reached more than 500 5th grade students at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

The program, called Mission Ocean, is an interactive and collaborative teaching platform developed by Purdue University-Calumet’s Center for Science and Technology Education. The event demonstrated a part of what schools operate as a year-long curriculum that allows students to apply math and science learned in the classroom to driving a computer-generated research submarine on a search for an underwater volcano.

The event, the third held in the state in conjunction with the November 6th christening of the Virginia-class submarine, CALIFORNIA (SSN 781 ), took place at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles. After Jeffrey Rudolph, the president of the Science Center, welcomed the students, CAPT Jeffrey Sapp, USN (RET) challenged the students to excel academically and to drive for success. He used examples from his Annapolis education and naval career to motivate the students-and the teachers who brought them to the event-to get the crowd excited about math and science education.

After CAPT Sapp’s warm-up, Dave Miskimens, PEO SUBS’ Director of Undersea Systems, intrigued the students with his description of life on a submarine and wowed the entire audience with footage from the construction and Dal’I! Miskimcns and Jeffrey Rudolph christening of the CALIFORNIA.
Every pair of eyes in the room widened when the video from the christening showed the massive size of the Virginia-class ship.

Next came the main event, a demonstration by representatives of a local Girl Scout troop of how to drive a submarine. Seven young women, all of whom had been through the Mission Ocean curriculum, successfully navigated their submarine simulator through the scenario while the audience watched and listened to every step of the process.

Following the submarine simulation the students, with support from Navy personnel from around Los Angeles, wrote postcards to send to sailors during the holiday season. They were then treated to lunch (sponsored by the Submarine League), before returning to school. In the audience was a school superintendent, Stan Sheer, who is now planning to integrate the Mission Ocean education platform into his school’s curriculum this fall! Thanks to the success of the Mission Ocean program in California, students in Mississippi, Minnesota and North Dakota may also get the chance, as the submarines named after their states are launched, to learn through this valuable and effective STEM initiative.

The Submarine League thanks Northrop Grumman Marine Systems for their generous financial support that made this program, and its long-term impact on math and science education, possible.

Naval Submarine League

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