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FCC(SW) Auffenberg speaks with Westbrook High School Staff before
Space Day commences.
SPRUANCE Sailors Participate in Maine Tradition
By: LTJG Sarah Feagles
On Friday, May 6th, twenty-one SPRUANCE Sailors traveled to Westbrook Middle School and High School for the nation’s 14th Annual Space Day. Performing a wide range of tasks, the Sailors ensured that the day went off without a hitch. Space Day has evolved into a massive grassroots effort dedicated to the extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities in the exploration and use of space. The ultimate goal is to promote math, science, technology and engineering education by nurturing young peoples' enthusiasm for the wonders of the universe and inspiring them to continue the stellar work of today's space explorers.
Space Day in the Bath and Brunswick area began because Ms. Sharon Eggleston, a Lockheed Marin employee at Bath Iron Works (BIW), wanted to stress the importance of math and science education. By integrating the crew of every Arleigh-Burke Destroyer built at BIW starting with USS DONALD COOK (DDG 75), over 200 Sailors have represented the United States Navy by wearing their dress white uniform and explaining the opportunities available to students who want to enter the service. SPRUANCE’s Sailors thoroughly enjoyed the chance to speak to young students about their jobs. Says FC2 Sparkman, “Before Space Day, I have never had the chance to interact with so many high school students deciding what their future would be. By explaining my job in the Navy and how gratifying it is to serve our country, I think I convinced a few to consider joining the military.”
In Maine, Space Day is especially important because so many growing sectors in the state’s economy rely on employees with a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) background. A letter from Maine’s Commissioner of Education, Stephen Bowen, states, “Events like Maine Space Day highlight for our students the endless career possibilities available to them in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and encourage students to pursue these careers that are critical to our economy, our everyday lives and our national defense.” BIW and the government contractors that work with the shipyard are some of the largest employers in the state, and spreading the message about the necessity of a higher education that concentrates in one of the STEM fields is vital to ensure qualified people are available to work in challenging positions. The presence of SPRUANCE Sailors at the event solidified the symbiotic relationship the Navy has with the Bath and Brunswick community, and the opportunities that await students who want to work with the most complex levels of technology.
At Space Day, students had the opportunity to participate in a simulated mission to Mars, to discuss the Space Shuttle program, explore constellations, investigate the life cycle of a star, learn how to protect planet Earth, explore space career opportunities, view lunar and meteorite samples, sample astronaut food and make astronaut patches, hold rocket design and launch contests, and study Hubble Space Telescope discoveries. SPRUANCE Sailors helped set-up the various stations and also served as the Color Guard when a local student sang the National Anthem to kick off the day’s festivities. Ms. Eggleston was very proud of the representation the Sailors provided: “I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of SPRUANCE’s sailors. Their presence added a unique touch to the event. It gave students the insight of what it is like to work with cutting edge of technology on a daily basis and to serve the nation at the same time.”
Space Day is just one example of SPRUANCE’s involvement in the Maine community. It benefited both students and the command due to the exchange of information and visibility of the Navy in the Maine area. Thanks to SPRUANCE, the day flawlessly combined the practicalities and advantages of military service and its coupling with STEM fields. Giving back to the community is a priority for the entire command, and Space Day was just one way of demonstrating how important the future of today’s youth is to the military and to SPRUANCE.
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