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Young minds at work: Thousands attend Lockheed Martin’s annual event

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By Deborah Swearingen

Thousands of kids invaded Lockheed Martin’s Waterton Canyon campus April 26 for Young Minds At Work, the company’s version of “Take Your Kids to Work” day.

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With more than 40 activities to choose from, including augmented reality demonstrations, edible satellites and an Orion flight simulator, there was no shortage of fun to be had. And on a campus that is generally closed to the public, employees enjoyed the chance to show their kids where they work and what they do.

“It’s fun showing them my cubicle,” employee Jeremy Moore joked as his 9- and 7-year-old launched a water rocket into the air.

While watching her kids catapult marshmallows across the front lawn, employee Sheila Somani agreed.

“It’s super exciting for them,” Somani said. “Lockheed does a phenomenal job.”

Because there are so many activities to choose from, Somani and her group could not make it to everything. Instead, they printed out a list of activities and planned their day accordingly.

“Who doesn’t want to build an edible satellite?” Somani asked with a smile.

But for those who help put on the event, Young Minds At Work extends beyond the obvious fun family bonding experience. It’s also an opportunity to expose youngsters to new possibilities and show them ways to apply what they’ve learned in school.

Any chance to teach a kid something new should be taken advantage of, said Kathleen Coderre, habitat systems engineering lead. Coderre helped design the place where astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft will live, eat and exercise for weeks. A model was on display at last week’s event, and kids lined up to climb aboard and take a peek.

“I think this gives them an idea to maybe step outside and see something a little different that they don’t really get to see,” Coderre said.

“It just lets them have fun. I think experiential learning is really a key element and that you actually learn a little bit more by doing and experiencing and relating than you do by sitting in a classroom all day,” she added.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.