VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.
More than 8,000 students attended the 2019 Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Air Show, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest field trip, Sept. 20.
Over 5,600 fifth grade students from Virginia Beach, Virginia, 1,500 fifth grade students from Chesapeake, Virginia, 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 (STEM) Lab Learning Day.
“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 U.S. 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.
“I enjoy teaching and seeing the kids’ eyes widen with what they’ve learned,” said Capt. Joan Malik, assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces, who has been teaching STEM for 13 years. “I’m happy as long as I’ve taught them just one little thing.”
This year marks the 60th Annual Naval Air Station Oceana 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. This year’s theme is Thunder Over Oceana, with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the featured performance.
The 2019 NAS Oceana Air Show is planned, set up and performed by Naval Air Station Oceana personnel and requires the skills and knowledge of all Sailors stationed there. Thousands of hours are spent in making this the Navy's largest public outreach event.