Kirtland Air Force Base opens first ever STEM center

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Kids living on Kirtland Air Force Base will now have access to cutting-edge technology like 3D printers, robotics, and much more.

It’s all thanks to a $45,000 grant given to them to build its first ever STEM center.

Fourth-grader Laina Therrien has big plans for the future.

“I’ve been thinking about becoming president, doctor, author, inventor,” said Therrien.

The tools she’s using today could help her get there.

“I’d probably make something to store smoke in so that I can make a machine where it can turn it back into gas. It’d help cars not have to get gas and keep the environment safe,” said Therrien.

Therrien is just one of the dozens of kids who are now able to take advantage of a brand new, state of the art STEM center on Kirtland Air Force Base.
     
“We have a 3D printer now. We have all upgraded technology, iPads, robotics systems. Stuff that we once weren’t able to support, we now have,” said Heather Hutzell, recreation specialist.

It’s a big step up from what the Kirtland Youth Center once had.

“We had the resources to do small research projects. We would do little DIY STEM things,” said Hutzell.

The grant is from a partnership with Boys and Girls Club of America and Raytheon. The grant allows them to completely transform two spaces into rooms that supply high-end technology and space to learn, create, and explore.

“We have a lot more interest in STEM from our kiddos. They’re now talking about coding and they’re excited about robotics,” said Lucy Burbach, recreation specialist.

The STEM Center of Excellence is now open to kids ages 9 to 18.

With summer coming up, recreation specialists say they will be starting weekly activities such as virtual reality, 3D printing, coding, and robotics.

The future of the STEM Center of Excellence is looking bright. Officials say they will continue to get money through this grant for the next few years to continue with programming and STEM-related activities.

Kirtland AFB is only the 14th center of innovation to open and the 7th military installation to receive this grant.

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