Game-changer: Boeing goes to bat for kids and STEM

Through partnerships with teams like the Seattle Mariners, Boeing supports youth education, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

July 31, 2019 in Our Community

The partner pitch endures in major league baseball as a ceremonial honor. Yet for several Puget Sound-area students, it recently signified game-changing plays Boeing is making in pursuit of education and STEM learning.

Joseph Perez Jr, 12, and Henry Beason, 16, literally carried the ball for that effort when they made their way to the Seattle Mariners pitcher’s mound to celebrate Boeing-sponsored Kids’ Opening Day this year.  Perez took the mound on March 31 and Beason on July 28.

The two events celebrate the significant contributions Boeing is making to support youth education, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Perez represented Boeing’s partnership to help build the nation’s first children’s museum on a military base. Beason represented Boeing’s partnership with FIRST Robotics teams.

“Boeing gave the first $1 million gift in the museum’s history toward More than a Museum Campaign, and then the Boeing Employees Community Fund donated another $500,000,” said Julia Beerbower of the Tacoma Children’s Museum “This shows how important children, our military and the greater Puget Sound region is to Boeing.”

The museum will be built at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington, where Perez’s dad – Joseph Perez, Sr. – is a staff sergeant. The younger Perez participated in focus groups with kids his age to help ensure the museum will be a success.

Beason, meanwhile, last Sunday helped to celebrate Boeing’s partnership with FIRST Robotics. Nearly 200 Washington teams are supported by FIRST mentors. Nationwide, Boeing provides over $1 million in support to FIRST each year.

A Cascade High School student in Everett, Washington, Beason is part of the Otter Chaos FIRST Robotics team mentored by Boeing technical designer, Neil Palachuk. Team members who joined Beason on the field described him as their unofficial captain and a true leader.

 “Robotics competitions have taught me to focus on the task at hand and to listen to my drive coach – and not to listen to anything else – and that’s how I plan to throw the first pitch,” Beason said before the game.

FIRST Washington supports and engages today's tech-native youth with a league of their own, inspiring them to build on their passions and preparing them to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow.

“Robotics has changed my life,” said Beason. “It has given me perspective, taught me problem solving, and the value of working with a team – why keep good ideas a secret when you can share with a team?”

And, he joked, “This experience has helped me to be less socially awkward – key word being ‘less’.”

Palachuk, meanwhile, has volunteered as a robotic coach for six of the eight years he’s worked at Boeing. He recalled a highlight of being a mentor that happened while using  a power tool during a drilling and tapping lesson.

"Several of the girls in the class told me they didn’t know how to use the tool and didn’t think they could do what I had asked of them,” Palachuk said.

“After some encouragement, they picked up the tool and successfully drilled and tapped -- that put a big smile of their faces,” he said. “Anytime, a young person realizes they are capable of doing something new, that’s a great day!”

By Monica Zimmer