BCPAL presents afterschool program graduates

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Last Thursday, Beaufort County Police Activities League presented the first graduating class of its afterschool program.

Seventeen fifth- through eighth-graders completed the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) course, which began Jan. 24, and enlisted the help of four student teachers and Matthew Lincoln, lead mechanical engineering instructor at Beaufort County Community College.

“The kids were really disappointed it was the last day,” BCPAL President Al Powell said. “I just wish there was a way to move them all to our summer camp program.”

The afterschool program’s curriculum was modeled closely after an engineering course at East Carolina University, Powell said. Over the course of several weeks, students designed car parts on computers, printed their designs using a 3-D printer, used the printed parts to engineer a small car model, and finally, tested the models in a wind tunnel, he said.

“It was a canned program that (Matthew Lincoln) tweaked, and it was very well put together,” Powell said. “Matt did an excellent job getting the kids excited and keeping them motivated.”

BCPAL has big plans in store, including the construction of its new building near Washington-Warren Airport. Powell said he hopes to host all afterschool programs at P.S. Jones Middle School or Chocowinity Middle School next year, and he also hopes to expand to high school students in the future.

“This was a pilot program to see how it would work, and it worked well,” he said.

Although the children’s disappointment with wrapping up the program was hard for Powell to watch, it was also a sign of doing something right. He said this year’s BCPAL STEM summer camp is already full, but the organization would like to transition some of the afterschool participants into other programs.

Powell said the success of this year’s afterschool program could also show the public how BCPAL is pushing beyond the borders of Washington.

“They all unanimously agreed they had a good time,” he said. “They were very enthusiastic. They were very excited.”