by Jon Butler, Middle School Science Faculty
As part of their science class, Thayer 7th graders recently traveled to the Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center to visit the center's labs and observe science in action.
The group visited the Virtual Reality Dome and saw some of the simulations they run, along with seeing how they use drones to obtain real-time data about an area soldiers may be moving into.
Students also visited the biometrics lab, where they saw the equipment they use to understand warfighter (a term the center uses for service people) movement to design better fitting protective gear and improve their performance.
The 7th graders then visited the Combat Feeding Directorate, where they develop the meals that warfighters receive in combat and again try to optimize warfighter performance through proper nutrition, while also keeping in mind that warfighters need to carry their own food for up to ten days. We also learned that the armed forces are no longer able to establish permanent bases because they become easy targets, so it is becoming more and more important to keep warfighters on the move. They have now developed airdrop technology that allows them to drop food from 21,000 feet and land it within a 50-foot radius of someone holding a cell phone device on the ground.
The last place students visited was the Climatic Chambers where they control conditions ranging from 130 degrees to negative 70, including wind and rain in order to see how warfighters respond to different conditions and again improve both the equipment they wear and their overall performance.