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Top base innovators showcase ideas at Sticky’s Spark Tank

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

Innovators from throughout Edwards Air Force Base, California, presented their innovative ideas in a Spark Tank showcase, Aug. 3.

The showcase featured the top 15 ideas from a recent crowd-sourced campaign run on the Guardians Airmen Innovation Network platform organized by SparkED, the 412th Test Wing Innovation Team and garnered almost 80 submissions.

The Spark Tank is modeled after the TV program, “Shark Tank.” Participants were instructed to provide a three-minute video to show their ideas to panel of expert judges. The judges were allocated time to ask follow up questions to the presenters.

At the end of the showcase, one idea was chosen above others; the idea belonged to Tech. Sgt. Robert Gregory from the 412th Operations Support Squadron’s Test Parachute Team. He pitched a military free-fall simulator that the unit’s parachutists can train on.

“Parachuting in the military, in general, is an already inherently dangerous program,” Gregory said. “We’ve all seen injuries, we've all seen death, and we're trying to limit that and keep our people alive.”

Gregory explained that outside of using an actual parachute for training or familiarization, classroom instruction does not provide an immersive learning environment that parachutists require.

“Flying that parachute from the time you exit the aircraft from the time you land on the ground, you get a far better quality of training when it comes to virtual reality,” he said.

Gregory said that the showcase was intimidating at first, however he realized how important and potentially life-saving his idea is.

“At first, it's intimidating, and then you have to think…you're passionate about something, right? You've seen your buddies get hurt, you've seen people, unfortunately pass away from this community, and you really want to make sure that your idea comes across,” Gregory explained. “I wanted to make sure that I gave them the proper details to hopefully give a good decision.”

Gregory will now work with SparkED to plan and coordinate how to bring the virtual reality training capability to Edwards AFB.

“Being selected as the number one, it really shows that they heard what we had to say, and it feels great,” expressed Gregory.

It had previously been two years since SparkED was able to host a Spark Tank showcase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however organizers believed organizing a physical showcase can have a bigger impact.

“People always ask, you know, ‘why go through the motions of a showcase?’ Well, we really want to have that engagement and we really want to show how to pitch ideas…And also getting out that innovation mindset, do you want people to understand that maybe you don't have the foolproof solution, and we're okay with that,” said Britney Reed, 412th TW, XPOI Chief Innovation Officer.

“These are public ways of showing how to engage and how to pitch and we have some brave finalists that took that chance, and we're really proud that our culture produces those type of things,” Reed added.

Edwards provides care, opportunities for children aged six weeks through high school graduation

Edwards provides care, opportunities for childrenaged six weeks through high school graduation

The Child and Youth Program at Edwards AFB provides care and opportunities for kids ages six weeks old through high school graduation. A brief summary of those services follows:

  •                    The Child Development Center cares for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, with a DOD-wide curriculum. The curriculum is focused on learning through play activities supporting social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Installations across DOD follow the curriculum on the same timeline to allow seamless permanent change-of-station transitions for youth enrolled in care.
  •                    The School Age Center provides before and after-school care and summer camp for children ages 5 to 12. During school breaks, full-day camps are offered. SAC promotes cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, language and physical development through programs that encourage self-confidence, curiosity, self-discipline and resiliency.
  •                    The open recreation program at the Main Youth Center provides a safe space for ages 9 to 12 to attend after school. Programs include Power Hour, STEM, Torch Club, social recreation, youth camps, special events and more.
  •                    The youth sports program provides intro and league opportunities for ages 3 to 12, and promotes inclusiveness, self-discipline, commitment, resiliency and social skills. There are four sports offered annually for ages five to 12: baseball/softball, soccer, flag football and basketball. Smart start programs are available to ages 3 to 5. There are many other sports and camps offered throughout the year.
  •                    The Teen Center is available for ages 13 to 18 during the school year. Programs offered include Military Youth of the Year, Keystone Club, social recreation, STEM activities, college trips, leadership camps and more.
  •                    Youth programs (SAC, open rec and teen) are affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 4-H.
  •                    Family Child Care homes – there are currently three FCC homes on the installation. They can provide care for ages two weeks to 12 years. FCC providers are trained by Child and Youth Program training and curriculum specialists and have the flexibility to determine their hours of operation and the ages of youth within their care. The program’s new dedicated manager, Jennifer Stegmann, may be reached at 661-275-7529.

Although CDC enrollment capacity is 317, not all slots are currently filled because of a shortage of childcare workers. School Age Center enrollment capacity is 156. After-school care enrollment is 130. Before-school care enrollment is 75. Summer Camp 2022 was at its capacity and enrollment for Summer Camp 2023 opens April 3.