2019 NAS Oceana Air Show STEM event shatters Guinness World Record

Cmdr. Bryan Roberts, assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, instructs a student attending the 2019 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show STEM Lab Learning Day as he flies a flight simulator. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark Thomas Mahmod/Released)
Cmdr. Bryan Roberts, assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, instructs a student attending the 2019 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show STEM Lab Learning Day as he flies a flight simulator. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark Thomas Mahmod/Released)

VIRGINIA BEACH — More than 8,000 students attended the 2019 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show Sept. 20, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest field trip.

More than 5,600 fifth grade students from Virginia Beach, 1,500 fifth grade students from Chesapeake, and students from other areas were welcomed a day before the air show officially opened to the public to attend the show’s annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Lab Learning Day, NAS Oceana officials said.

“I love to volunteer at the STEM tents because its so great to see little kids, and even sailors, become aware of what the Navy is doing and what it offers,” said Lt. Laura Clarke, assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces at the Stewards of the Sea station. “We as a Navy do a lot to make sure we operate in safe oceans.”

Some of the exhibits included Code Ninja, Navy Heritage Command, Submarine Forces, robot races, slime making, virtual-reality flight simulation, 3D printing, aluminum ship building, electrical engineering, as well as an interactive dive tank with submerged Navy divers and explosive ordnance technicians playing tic-tac-toe and writing messages to kids through the tank glass.

“I’ve never seen an air show like this that has such great learning opportunities for the kids,” said Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class Melissa Flot, a mother chaperoning her son’s class and assigned to Naval Station Norfolk. “They have an innovative way to teach kids and it’s really reaching them.”

The previous Guinness World Record was held by students of Guido de Brès School and the Attraction Park Walibi Holland (both Netherlands), in Biddinghuizen, Netherlands in 2013, NAS Oceana officials said.

“NASA Langley is proud to participate in NAS Oceana’s STEM education efforts during the air show. We know the importance of engaging kids at an early age and keeping their interest with hands on activities, said David Bowles, NASA Langley Center director. “These young people are part of the Artemis generation that will land the first female and next man on the moon by 2024 and I believe some of them will grow up to be the scientists and engineers that help NASA land humans on Mars.”

This year marks the 60th annual Air Show and celebrates the 76th anniversary of NAS Oceana. Originally opened in 1943 in the mudflats of Virginia Beach, NAS Oceana is now the Navy’s East Coast Master Jet Base and home to all of Naval Aviation’s F/A-18 Super Hornets, base officials said. This year’s theme is Thunder Over Oceana, with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the featured performance.

“One of the best things about being a fifth grader in Virginia Beach is this amazing opportunity to get hands-on, real-world STEM experience from the men and women who live it every single day, said Virginia Beach City Public Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence. “We are so grateful to our partners at NAS Oceana for making this experience happen for our young learners again this year.”

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.