Microsoft YouthSpark hosts interactive event for Beale AFB students Published March 26, 2021 By Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Fourth and fifth grade students at Lone Tree Elementary and Wheatland Charter Academy received an opportunity to participate in a virtual Microsoft YouthSpark event on March 25th, 2021. YouthSpark is an educational event, which introduces elementary and middle school student’s knowledge on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related studies. “Today’s students have fast paced information and technological advances coming at them at a rate that is multiplying, however, students are interested and catch on so fast,” said Jodie Jacklett, Lone Tree Elementary School principal and Wheatland Charter Academy director. “It is to our benefit as a society, and an economy, to open opportunities and exposure for students that may peak their enthusiasm or challenge their interest in ways that they can grow educationally. Additionally we want to foster their own ideas for even more future developments. Educational outreach, through events such as Microsoft YouthSpark, is a great way to further this venture.” The term STEM was introduced in the early 2000’s, which refers to careers and curriculum revolving around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Since then, STEM has grown expansively across those industries and school systems in the U.S. “STEM activities help students to ponder, explore, grow problem solving skills and reach for even more information. This furthers their knowledge and application of information through research and experience,” Jacklett said. Microsoft YouthSpark is a no-cost two hour long session. This particular event was held for military supported schools across the nation from New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas. “Students had a chance to learn coding, introduction to artificial intelligence (AI) and how AI is shaping our world,” said Annette Goodly, 9th Force Support Squadron Child and Youth Education Services school liaison officer. “They also had an interactive gameshow style activity where the students were able to win prizes.” Initially, the Microsoft YouthSpark event was planned to be in conjunction with Beale’s 2020 Air and Space Expo 2020, but due to COVID-19 the expo and event was postponed. “The hope is to gets kids really excited about STEM, especially girls and boys who may have never thought that coding and artificial intelligence can be fun,” Goodly said.