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The Academy’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach Program exists to engage, inspire and attract the next generation of STEM talent through K-12 programs. Faculty and cadets work with the local community, schools and teachers to provide outreach and increase the effectiveness of the Air Force’s investment in STEM. Cadets have the opportunity to mentor the next generation of potential cadets through involvement in these efforts.


STEM Fridays are free hands-on science, robotics or engineering lessons for elementary students. The USAFA STEM Outreach Coordinator will come to local classrooms with all materials necessary for each lesson. Classroom teachers must be present during the 45 to 60 minute lessons and active in assisting students. Below are the lessons available for the 2019-20 school year.

Solar Cars (45 mins) – Following a study of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, 4th or 5th grade students might enjoy making solar powered cars.

Ozobots (45 mins) – Ozobots are small robots that are programmable through drawn lines and color codes. This engaging activity helps students learn about coding and programming. They are suitable for K-5th grade students.

Owl Pellet Dissection (45 mins) – Teams of 3 or 4 will dissect an owl pellet and determine what type of animal the owl digested. This activity complements an ecosystems unit and is appropriate for grades 4-5th.

Designing Trash Collectors (60 mins) – Teams will use a variety of materials to clean trash away from an American Bullfrog’s habitat. This lesson is appropriate for K-1st grades.

A Slippery Slope: Engineering an Avalanche Protection System (60 mins) – Avalanche engineering is the design of technologies that stop the flow of avalanches. During this lesson, students work in teams to create an avalanche protection system for a mountain community. This unit would complement a study of forces and be suitable for 3-5th grades.

To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges (60 mins) – Civil engineering involves designing and constructing roads, bridges, canals and buildings. This lesson complements a 1-3rd grade science unit on forces. Students work in groups to create three types of bridges and determine which type is the strongest.

A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill (60 mins) – Environmental engineers work to halt, remediate and lessen problems an environment’s air, soil and water. In this Engineering is Elementary lesson, students create a process for cleaning up an oil spill. The lesson is suitable for 4-5th grades.

Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills (60 mins) – Mechanical engineering is a broad branch of engineering that deals with the design, construction and use of machines. In this Engineering is Elementary lesson, students work together in teams to design and create blades that work well for windmills. This lesson complements a study of forces and is appropriate for1-4th grades.

The Sky’s the Limit: Engineering Flying Technologies (60 mins) – Aeronautical engineering involves designing technologies that fly through earth’s atmosphere such as airplanes, gliders, unmanned aerial vehicles and hot air balloons. In this Engineering is Elementary lesson, students work together in teams to create a flying technology prototype that can hold up to 3 “aerial photographers” and their equipment. This lesson complements a study of forces and is suitable for 3-5th grades.

To the Rescue: Engineering Aid Drop Packages (60 mins) – Package engineering involves the design, development and production of packages. When disasters occur, sometimes the only way to quickly deliver essential supplies is through air drops. In this Engineering is Elementary lesson, students work in teams to create a package that can be successfully air dropped. This lesson is suitable for 4-5th grades.

Animal Adaptations (60 mins) – Following a quick look at a variety of animal adaptations, students will test a blubber glove and work with tools that simulate bird beak adaptations. This lesson is suitable for 1-3rd grades.

Light or Thermal Energy Lessons (60 mins) – The STEM Coordinator provides a variety of hands-on activities pertaining to light or thermal energy for 5th grade.



*Other tours available upon request.

Aeronautics Research Center – This lab offers a 45-60 minute tour of 7 wind tunnels, a variety of jet engines, the machine shop, cadet workshop and aircraft design classroom. It is best suited for middle school to adult attendees.

Air Force CyberWorx – Participants gain understanding of a human-centered methods approach to design thinking as it pertains to Air Force cyber challenges. This tour is best suited for high school attendees.

CAStLE Research Center – This lab provides a visual tour of how Newtonian physics are applied to the design, fabrication and facility of aircraft. Shops included in the tour are wood, metal, fabrication and automotive. This lab also conducts corrosion and metal properties research. Distinguished cadet capstone projects are displayed. This visit is appropriate for middle and high school attendees.

Chemistry Research Center – Elementary and middle school attendees are treated to a Chemistry Magic Show and a hands-on lab activity. High School students receive a 30 minute tour of the Chemistry Labs. The research team focuses on preparing functionalized polymer and hybrid polymer composites directed toward developing next-generation, high performance materials to meet operational Air Force and Department of Defense needs. Attendees of all ages will enjoy this tour.

Computer Science Research Center – After hearing about cadet cyber warfare studies using a city model called “Cyber-city,” students interact with virtual and augmented reality goggles depicting the Academy’s ten meter diving board, games, and other interesting locations.

Electrical & Computer Engineering Research Center – This visual tour offers a glimpse into a robot maze used in cadet competitions, the MARVL lab where cadets built R2D2 type robots, a virtual reality zone and the neuro-wheelchair operated by transmitter goggles. A separate tour offers insight into the effectiveness of AFA solar panels, a look at 3D printers and interaction with 20 watt hand generators and squishy circuits. Middle and high school attendees are welcome.

Human Performance Lab – The Human Performance Laboratory applies sports science principles to improve Academy athletic teams and individual cadet performance. It also provides subject matter expertise on the Air Force Fitness Program and human performance offering scientific data through research and exercise physiology principles. The AFA Human Performance Lab is one of the top exercise physiology centers in the United States. Upper elementary to adult attendees would enjoy this tour.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Research Center – This tour offers a glimpse at how cadets learn to program unmanned aircraft and see the inner workings of the operations center. Depending on the date and time, attendees might be able to watch cadets working with drones at Stillman Field.

Space Systems Research Center – This tour allows participants to view FalconSAT satellites and hear a brief history of the program. Other sections of the tour include: the FalconSAT operations center, the machine shop where models and structures are created and the clean room where spacecraft are assembled. A hybrid rocket demo is possible if time and personnel permits. The tour is appropriate for upper elementary to adult attendees.

War Fighter Effectiveness Research Center (WERC) – This research arm of the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department is dedicated to research that enhances warfighter effectiveness. Current research includes: human-robot interaction, trust in automation, concussion research, respect for human dignity and evidence-based leadership. Attendees have the opportunity to interact with virtual reality goggles, Baxter Robot and sensation and perception demo carts.



STEM Presentations / STEM Fridays – When available, Air Force Academy staff and faculty travel to schools and various organizational meetings to present interactive and engaging STEM presentations. The STEM Coordinator will conduct free, hands-on science, engineering or robotics lessons for elementary classrooms on Fridays.

Lending Library – Individuals, organizations or groups may check out STEM related equipment for up to a 6 week period. Items in the STEM Lending Library include molecular model sets, portable spectrometers, portable wind tunnels, Lego EV3s, Lego WeDo 2.0 kits, Little Bits, Spheros robots, Bee Bots, Ozobots, Contraptions, Fun Flake & IQ building sets, Code-a-pillars, Dash & Dot, Cubelets, Makey-Makey sets, Makedo kits cardboard construction kits, Nasco Animal Tracks & Scat kits, Snap Circuits, Straws & Connectors, Air Tracks, Straw Rocket Launchers, Vernier probes, Rube Goldberg kits, Breakout Boxes, microscopes and a stream table.

Cadet Support for Events – Cadets are permitted to miss one class per semester so daytime event availability is limited.  Events after 4:00PM or on Saturdays are easier to accommodate.


Sandy Lamb
k-12 STEM Outreach Coordinator
(719) 333-8990

Delene Hoffner
USAFA STEM Legay Camp Lead
(719) 333-0725