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updated: 6/30/2011 4:24 PM

Sailors tout importance of science at IMSA

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  • Recruiter Demetrius Lash tries to get Paige Breslin to laugh while she stands for inspection. Personnel from the Navy visited the summer camp Thursday at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora to talk about the Navy and have fun with the kids.

       Recruiter Demetrius Lash tries to get Paige Breslin to laugh while she stands for inspection. Personnel from the Navy visited the summer camp Thursday at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora to talk about the Navy and have fun with the kids.
    SCOTT SANDERS | Staff Photographer

  • Alexis Reed of Naperville tries hard to be serious while posing for a friend during a summer camp Thursday at IMSA in Aurora.

       Alexis Reed of Naperville tries hard to be serious while posing for a friend during a summer camp Thursday at IMSA in Aurora.
    SCOTT SANDERS | Staff Photographer

  • Navy personnel, including recruiter Raul Mot, visited the summer camp at IMSA in Aurora Thursday to talk about the Navy, sign autographs, and have fun with the kids.

       Navy personnel, including recruiter Raul Mot, visited the summer camp at IMSA in Aurora Thursday to talk about the Navy, sign autographs, and have fun with the kids.
    SCOTT SANDERS | Staff Photographer

 
 

Summer camp students at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora provided celebrity treatment for sailors Thursday as Navy personnel discussed the role of science in their mission of being "a global force for good."

"We in the Navy are very technical," Rear Adm. Clarke Orzalli said, speaking to about 50 IMSA teachers, alumni and guests. "The complexities of modern weapons systems require us to be very technical."

Orzalli spoke as a small group of sailors played a Navy-themed version of Simon Says with summer camp students soon to enter third through sixth grade. Kids swarmed the white-clad sailors seeking their autographs in their summer camp notebooks.

The visit was part of Chicago Navy Week, a way to make the Navy more visible in non-coastal cities, said Lt. Cmdr. Pam Bou, an IMSA graduate.

But it was by no means a recruiting stop, Orzalli said.

"I'm more interested in showing kids that things in science, technology, engineering and math can be fun," Orzalli said. "I'm here to pump up what you do as opposed to say 'We want you.'"

Scientific-minded problem-solvers are in high demand in the Navy -- especially as the organization tries to become a leader in alternative energy sources, Orzalli said.

Navy ships constantly are positioned around the world, making it costly and inefficient to supply them with fuel.

But the ships need some kind of energy to serve many important purposes, Orzalli said. They provide humanitarian aid when disasters strike in places such as Haiti or Japan. They serve as home bases for planes flying missions over landlocked countries such as Afghanistan. And they ensure shipping lanes stay open for international trade.

"If we could give your students something to work on, that is alternative energy," Orzalli said.

A few sailors based at a recruiting station in Aurora visited IMSA's summer camps Thursday and last week to work on experiments including combustion engines or starfish dissection.

"Our theme today is marine biology, so it's really interesting to see it all tied together," said Egle Malinauskaite, a 17-year-old camp counselor.

Recruiter Erick Arroyo said he wasn't prepared for the celebrity treatment and autograph seeking, but he was expecting questions about what it's like to be in the Navy.

His job involves science, Arroyo said -- specifically fixing aircraft engines.

"We have several programs that deal a lot with math and science, one of them being our nuclear engineering program, which is entirely math and science," Arroryo said. "So it's very important."

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