The future’s so bright, students gotta wear shades… Navy scientists engage nation’s classrooms

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class, Patrick Enright speaks with scientist Dr. Brittany Lynn, SSC Pacific.


Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) reached into classrooms across America through a first-ever livestream outreach event in an effort to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to help build a robust future pool of American scientists and researchers.

In association with the Navy’s Chief of Information (CHINFO) Community Outreach Office (Pentagon), the Defense Media Activity (DMA) at Fort Meade Maryland, and the Defense Visual Distribution Service (DVIDS), the “virtual field trip” offered middle school students from more than 73 school districts across 18 states the opportunity Oct. 16 to tune in live to watch SSC Pacific scientists, Dr. Burton Neuner III and Dr. Brittany Lynn of the Advanced Photonic Technologies Branch discuss photonics through an interactive presentation of “Ocean Light and Communication and Invisible Light.”

SSC Pacific videographer and event coordinator Aaron Lebsack explained the project’s significance this way.

“Our conventional approach of sending our scientists and engineers to the classroom has always inspired STEM learning; however, by reversing that process and inviting the student inside our laboratories in the form of a ‘virtual field trip’ allows our team to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals on a much larger scale,” he said. “Here at SSC Pacific we develop enabling technologies that we hope are force multipliers to give our service members a distinct advantage over our adversary’s and keep them safe and it seems that the same theory would apply to the way we do STEM outreach by combining our efforts with Big Navy, DMA, DVIDS etc., we can effectively inspire more young minds to pursue exciting fields of study. I think my colleagues will always be in classrooms locally mentoring students; but, now we can offer an alternative to classrooms we don’t have easy access to which makes this such an exciting thing to be part of.”

Locally, San Diego Unified School District K-8 school Bethune hosted the live-stream for the 40-plus enthusiastic students in teacher Kelly Marcarelli’s 8th grade science class. In addition to participating in the live-stream, SSC Pacific’s Dr. Sarah Lauff offered first hand additional classroom activities and answered students’ questions in real-time.

School principal Valerie Jurado was thrilled by both the professionalism of the scientists and the engagement from students.

“This was such a great opportunity for students to see real-world applications of science in everyday life,” she said. “I am so proud of our kids. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to engage, and who knows what the impact will be on them in the future? One of our kids went to Space Camp just a short while ago, and now she wants to be an astronaut. This is an incredible opportunity for our kids to learn from real scientists.”

The presentation can be seen via the webcast link at https://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/17026.