To the editor:
While it is encouraging to see so many Mount Everett students building robot submarines, Dick Lindsay's recent article ("Deep Dive," Eagle, March 13) omitted a key fact about the program: SeaPerch is funded by the U.S. Navy, which sees the program as a way to market itself to middle and high school students.
The Navy spends more than $100 million annually on marketing efforts to help recruit a sufficient number of people with STEM skills. This effort extends from primary through graduate school. According to a 2019 planning document available online, "A Guide to Education and Workforce Naval STEM," SeaPerch is one of several Navy programs embedded in K-12 education. Through immersive activities like building unmanned submarines — or elaborate Lego robots, in the case of another Navy-funded program, FIRST Lego League — such programs help "share the Navy's mission with various communities" in order to recruit "the nation's best and brightest talent as part of our naval STEM workforce."
If asked to comment on these programs, the response from the Navy would likely be that they just want students to get involved with STEM and don't much care if youth eventually enlist in the Navy. But then how to explain the participation of Navy recruiters as judges at regional competitions for SeaPerch and FIRST Lego League? For an answer, we can turn to a 2011 article in Navy Recruiter Magazine, which offers this insight from the head of Navy recruiting for Ohio and neighboring states: "By being involved in youth events at the middle/junior high school level, we provide a presence and plant seeds for future consideration for service in the Navy."
Do Mount Everett students and parents know about SeaPerch's links to the Navy? School administrators should provide assurance that this program will not be merely used as a Trojan Horse for Navy recruiting.
The writer is the program coordinator for the Military Recruitment Report at the Resistance Center for Peace and Justice.