When the pandemic stay-at-home orders forced school closures, Midway’s onboard education programs were cancelled. Qualcomm, however, stepped up and funded Midway’s development of three virtual STEM-based field-trip experiences to connect with students remotely. Rolled out in the fall of 2020, the programs – Everyday Heroes, City at Sea, and STEAM Student Tour – became immediately successful, engaging thousands of students and educators!

From September 2020 through June 2021, 201 total distance-learning, virtual field trips were conducted with eager students from San Diego County as well as students as far away as Texas and Louisiana. Some of these sessions included as many as 117 students. In all, 263 classrooms and more than 6,750 students experienced Midway education programs virtually. And, through Qualcomm’s generous support, the first 250 classrooms’ participation costs were compliments of the Qualcomm Scholarship Fund!

 “Keeping students connected to hands-on STEM learning is especially important right now,” said Natalie Dusi, manager of corporate responsibility at Qualcomm. “We love the Midway’s creative use of technology to inspire students to pursue a future in STEM, and are proud to help offer this programming to students who might not otherwise have access.”

One of Midway’s most popular virtual experiences is the STEAM Student Tour app. Using video, animation, and augmented reality, the app guides students on a virtual tour of Midway spaces like the fo’c’sle, enlisted berthing, the flight deck and Midway galleys. It also portrays underway replenishment and helicopter flight operations. At each stop, students are challenged with IRL (in real life) math problems that must be solved in order to continue their virtual tour. The module was developed for both synchronous and asynchronous educational settings, meaning the experience can be conducted within a classroom setting or assigned to students to explore and experience on their own.

One of the most exciting aspects of Midway’s distance-learning programs is the live broadcast from on board the ship. Between the three distance learning programs, Midway educators broadcast from 14 different shipboard locations. Teachers who request the live broadcasts are also provided an introduction/welcome video and multiple video vignettes to cover Midway spaces that are difficult to access during a live broadcast. A live question and answer period is also included that allows students to demonstrate their grasp of the STEM principles taught during the session.

Educator feedback was consistently positive. 

“Your program was so well done,” said a 5th grade teacher from Brentwood Elementary School in Austin, Texas. 

“The Midway education staff moved us around with three different people, different screens, and baked in relevant math in real life. In an awful COVID year, taking the kids virtually to San Diego was actually something cool. We might never have done it in a normal year.”

Distance-learning virtual field trips will be part of Midway’s STEM curriculum going forward. In fact, there are already more than 25 classrooms scheduled for virtual programs in fall 2021 including students from schools in California, Nevada, Texas, and Louisiana. A fourth virtual program sponsored by Qualcomm is under
development right now to be launched in the second quarter of 2022. This newest STEM program will be a computer science-based experience for 6th graders, underwritten through Midway’s continuing collaboration with Qualcomm.

Qualcomm also continues their annual support for Midway education’s Damage Control Shipboard Engineering program for middle school students. Using the Navy’s damage control model, students learn to identify and use engineering concepts to create solutions for situations sailors might encounter onboard. 

Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch, and expansion of 5G. When we connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone. We bring the benefits of mobile to new industries, including automotive, the internet of things, and computing, and are leading the way to a world where everything and everyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.

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