Scott Airmen inspire youth at Community Science Showcase

A child reacts while having a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A child reacts while having a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, asks a visitor what they’re experiencing while they use the Google cardboard virtual reality box to see what it looks like to jump out of a plane as a paratrooper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, asks a visitor what they’re experiencing while they use the Google cardboard virtual reality box to see what it looks like to jump out of a plane as a paratrooper. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A child reacts while having a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A child reacts while having a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A father takes a picture of his son while he has a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A father takes a picture of his son while he has a virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A young girl looks at the virtual reality screen to decide which experience she would like to have.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A young girl looks at the virtual reality screen to decide which experience she would like to have. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, helps a visitor adjust the virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, helps a visitor adjust the virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Visitors learn about the Air Force and their role in science, technology, engineering, and math. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Visitors learn about the Air Force and their role in science, technology, engineering, and math. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, asks a visitor to close their eyes for an experiment that shows the effects of acid on teeth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, asks a visitor to close their eyes for an experiment that shows the effects of acid on teeth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches visitors how to extract DNA from a strawberry.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches visitors how to extract DNA from a strawberry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, laughs as she helps a visitor put on the virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, laughs as she helps a visitor put on the virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A line forms for the virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A line forms for the virtual reality experience at the Air Force booth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches visitors how to extract DNA from a strawberry.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches visitors how to extract DNA from a strawberry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, smiles during the Community Science Showcase event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, smiles during the Community Science Showcase event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, laughs while she helps a young girl use the virtual reality during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, laughs while she helps a young girl use the virtual reality during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, shows the effects of acid on eggs, much like the effects of acid on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, shows the effects of acid on eggs, much like the effects of acid on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A girl looks at a jar that Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, holds to show the effects of acid on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A girl looks at a jar that Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, holds to show the effects of acid on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, prepare a system for a virtual reality experience during the event.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, prepare a system for a virtual reality experience during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, prepare a system for a virtual reality experience during the event.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Staff Sgt. Merissa Hunnicut, 345th Recruiting Squadron recruiter, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, prepare a system for a virtual reality experience during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A child experiences a virtual reality scenario during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A child experiences a virtual reality scenario during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A child experiences a virtual reality scenario during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A child experiences a virtual reality scenario during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, talk during the event next to the Air Force logo and the virtual reality screen.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, and Staff Sgt. Charles Quinsay, talk during the event next to the Air Force logo and the virtual reality screen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Girls react to learning about the effects of acid on teeth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Girls react to learning about the effects of acid on teeth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches two young girls how to extract DNA from a strawberry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez) (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, teaches two young girls how to extract DNA from a strawberry. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez) (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, and Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, teach two young girls about the effects that acid has on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Capt. Nicholas Littman, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, and Maj. Anita Shade, 375th Dental Squadron residency director, teach two young girls about the effects that acid has on teeth during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A girl uses Google cardboard virtual reality to see what it’s like to jump out of a plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A girl uses Google cardboard virtual reality to see what it’s like to jump out of a plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

A girl uses Google cardboard virtual reality to see what it’s like to jump out of a plane.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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A girl uses Google cardboard virtual reality to see what it’s like to jump out of a plane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, prepares the Google cardboard virtual reality for a paratrooper experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, prepares the Google cardboard virtual reality for a paratrooper experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

Children watch while visitors try the virtual reality experience.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)
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Children watch while visitors try the virtual reality experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jodi Martinez)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --

Scott Air Force Base, an installation with a wide range of cyber capabilities and active duty computer and software programmers, recently collaborated with the St. Louis Science Center to help expose youth to the world of STEM-related career fields.

Chief Master Sgt. Diane Slazinik, 375th Communications Group superintendent, volunteered alongside other Airmen representing different Air Force careers fields at the Community Science Showcase Jan. 16.

“Many people in our community aren’t lucky enough to interact with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) professionals in their daily lives, so participating in outreach events like this is critical,” said Slazinik.

“It’s important we show the diversity available, not only in the wide range of STEM fields that are out there, but also the range of people working in those fields. It’s great for kids to be able to go to an event, see someone doing something, and them being able to make the connection, ‘here is a person just like me, look at what they’re doing. I could do that too.’”

Air Force medical and dental Airmen from the 375th Medical Group demonstrated how to extract DNA from strawberries and showed effects of acids on teeth. Recruiters from the 345th Recruiting Squadron also offered many attendees their first Virtual Reality experience.

This provided an opportunity for audience members to find out about the many other STEM-related jobs that are represented in the Air Force. Slazinik said she feels it is important to target under-represented groups, like minorities and women, with STEM outreach initiatives. She also stressed the importance of getting young women involved and showing them there are capable female role models in the science fields.

With the number of women in STEM fields increasing, she said, they are still under-represented in comparison to the overall amount of women in the workforce.

“In today’s environment, where technology is at everyone’s fingertips, it is just as important as it was 20 years ago to inspire the rising generations to dig deeper and ignite the spark of curiosity to find out how technology works,” Slazinik said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, STEM-related careers are expected to increase by 14 percent overall by 2020. That’s why Scott AFB is not only partnering with the local community in highlighting STEM, but also hosting their own STEM outreach opportunities on base. For example, in September Scott AFB hosted more than 350 students from surrounding middle schools for its first ever STEM day event. The purpose was to showcase how Team Scott implements all areas of STEM on a daily basis to enable rapid global mobility. Demonstrations included cyber hacking, live explosives, taser usage, aeromedical evacuation, radiology, patient transportation, medical equipment repair, and chemical, biological, nuclear, and explosive detection.

Slazinik said she believes there is an abundance of qualified users of technology, but a deficit in the amount of people who are trained and educated to create and secure it.

“It is important to our national security that we focus people on the security needs for our emerging technology and STEM outreach is the key to creating an initial spark to build the developing workforce of the future,” said Slazinik. “That is why we are partnering with education and industry within our community to ensure we are preparing students for the jobs we need them to fill when they enter the workforce.”