CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - SPAWAR organizers hope a special "My Brother's Keeper" event will inspire local students to dream big.
"I think being on this campus opens up a world of opportunities for students who may not ever have been able to come beyond the walls of the Naval Weapon Station," Sherrie Snipes-Williams, CEO of Charleston Promise Neighborhood, said.
Approximately 20 6th and 7th graders from the Charleston area spent Tuesday at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic (SPAWAR).
The students participated in behind-the-scenes lab tours, talks with engineers and more.
It's all part of the national program "My Brother's Keeper," launched by President Obama in Feb. 2014.
"My Brother's Keeper" is a challenge to cities, towns, counties and tribes across the country to become MBK communities that implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving the life outcomes of young men, regardless of who they are, where they come from or the circumstances into which they are born.
"If you look at the statistics this is a group that can use a hand up to have the opportunities like they're going to see here at SPAWAR," Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
The mayor also spoke to students before their lab tour.
"They're going to go into the laboratories, see what it's like to be an engineer," Capt. Scott Heller, SPAWAR commanding officer, said. "The different experiments they can build and help make the nation stronger as we contribute to the naval mission right here in Charleston."
Capt. Heller hopes letting students see projects, ranging from 3D printing to brain wave research, will leave kids wanting more STEM learning--science, technology, engineering and math.
"Math may seem dry to some folks," the captain said. "But when you see what you can create when you've mastered the math, and you can see what you can create when you work different metals or computers...kids see how exciting it really is."
Organizers hope that excitement translates into a future career, maybe even at SPAWAR.
Snipes-Williams of Charleston Promises hopes kids will take advantage of speaking with one-on-one with engineers.
"Hopefully, a spark will ignite with them that they will seek those same opportunities," Snipes-Williams said.
For Mayor Tecklenburg, the name of the program fits.