Chemistry students get real-world lesson from 140th Emergency Management

  • Published
  • By Capt Kinder Blacke
  • 140th Wing Public Affairs
Students at Rock Canyon High School witnessed exactly how the science they are learning in class is used daily by emergency management professionals in the Colorado Air National Guard Sept. 23.

Master Sgt. Jared Hiles, emergency manager, 140th Wing, shared his expertise and equipment with high school students whose science teacher, Mr. Bart Blumberg, is also a Traditional Guardsmen and Staff Sergeant in the 140th Maintenance Squadron.

On a day-to-day basis, Hiles ensures the 140th Wing is prepared to respond to and recover from a wide array of hazards. He is also a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear defense specialist and conducts CBRN defense training and performs Hazardous Material response.

Blumberg, who recently graduated from Colorado State University and started teaching at Rock Canyon High School, was formerly a member of the Emergency Management Flight for six years. He realized that many of the tools he used in EM were developed with the science he was currently teaching his students.

Hiles explained that part of the Core curriculum at RCHS is to not only teach the students the material, but to also show them how what they have learned is being used in real world applications. 

"I invited Master Sgt. Hiles to talk to the class because of my experience working with him and his knowledge of the career field," Blumberg said.  "He is extremely knowledgeable about Emergency Management both as a career field in the Air Force, and its applications in the civilian sector."

Blumberg wanted the students to apply the concepts he had taught them in class. "It is important for them to know that this information can be carried outside of the classroom," he said, and Hiles' diverse and unique knowledge base helped the students to further understand the concepts and their application.

Since the science department just learned about light and nuclear chemistry, Hiles brought in some chemical detection equipment that uses infrared spectroscopy and some radiation detectors to reinforce those lessons in Blumberg's classes.

Based on the students' reactions, they really enjoyed the presentation, seeing the different kinds of equipment and hearing actual stories of where they were used. "A lot of them left with either new knowledge or new ways of thinking about prior knowledge," Blumberg said. The majority also enjoyed seeing and working with equipment during the hands-on portion of the class.

Hiles enjoyed it as well. "Talking to students at RCHS was an amazing experience," he said. "I have always enjoyed teaching CBRN to military members, but this was a little more fulfilling because at the end of the day, it felt like I had shown a majority of the students that there are multiple applications in multiple career fields in the civilian world that use light and radioactive material."
Blumberg fully agreed. "Students are able to grasp the concepts more when they see it as it can relate to them in the real world," he said. "It is also important for the students to see there are many opportunities both within and outside of the military where they can use this information."

Sometimes it's hard to relate how chemistry can be applied to professions other than chemists, so Hiles was happy that the kids were interested and engaged. "It was fulfilling to see some of the students light up when they realized that what they had learned could apply to what they want to do in life," He said. "Also, it is always a great thing to be out in the community in uniform and representing the Colorado Air National Guard in a positive way."

Blumberg, like all of Colorado's Citizen Soldiers, represents the COANG in a positive way every day with his students since he is not only their teacher, but also an Airman. "I try not to talk about my military life too much, however, if there is an opportunity where I can correlate my military experiences with the material to make it more relevant, I do that when I can."

While this was not a recruiting event, Hiles is confident it was a worthwhile endeavor. "For the students to know that we weren't there trying to recruit them, but to actually teach them, really put a lot of them at ease. They seemed to focus on the equipment and technology more than the uniform," he said. "Even if we don't get any recruits out of this, I know that there is a new generation coming up that will better understand what the COANG can do and we will have continued support for and from our community."