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Cadet Candidates bring ‘dragon magic’ to elementary school

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Cadet Candidates from the Air Force Academy’s Preparatory School performed a chemistry magic show for elementary students at Stratmoor Hills Elementary, Nov. 13.

The cadet candidates perform the show at multiple schools throughout the year as part of an outreach program to get local children excited about science and math.

“We feel like the [cadet candidates] inspire a love of science in our students, and it’s good for the students to see how the principles of science they’re learning now can be used later on in life,” said Melissa Geffre, a literacy interventionist at Stratmoor Hills Elementary.

The cadet candidates wore lab coats and safety glasses as they walked the children through a series of science-based activities, which they playfully linked to dragons. One cadet candidate harnessed “dragon fire” by coating his hands in a liquid soap solution and setting the protective layer on fire.

Geffre said engaging the students’ curiosity with STEM-related activities early and often is crucial to developing long-lasting interest in the subjects.

“STEM is the future. Hands down. Seeing the reaction of the children today, hearing from them how excited they were — made it all worth it to come here,” said

Cadet Candidate Bradley Gonzalez, a former enlisted engine mechanic hoping to earn the chance to attend the Academy and study astronautics.

Gonzalez said he had little exposure to Airmen while growing up in Miami. He is happy to show the opportunities available in the Air Force and give back to the neighboring community.

The annual performance is one of the most popular events with the Stratmoor students. Geffre said the children often inquire about the cadet candidates throughout the rest of the school year.

“The students love them. They’re excited every year for them to come back. They definitely see them as partners in the community and look up to them as role models,” Geffre said.