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AEOP: Army Educational Outreach Program??

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Anyone know anything about the AEOP (Army Educational Outreach Program)?  http://www.usaeop.com/  My 8th grade son would be in the GEMS part of the program: http://www.usaeop.com/programs/stem-enrichment-activities/gems/


It looks kinda cool.  There is a base about 45 minutes from me that we could go to.  From what I can tell it's free (?) or they even pay the kids to be part of it?  (There's something on the website about a $100 stipend, but I don't know what for.)  They let the kids come onto the army base and work in the actual science labs in the summer.  For the one near us, this activity would be 4 days a week for 6 weeks in the summer.  I haven't found out how many hours a day yet.  (Two hours a day? Eight hours a day?  Didn't see it on the website yet.)


If you want to be part of it, you have to apply and they decide who they'll take.  The student has to write a paragraph of at least 5 sentences long saying why they want to join and an adult has to write a letter recommending the student to join.  The recommender's letter should include information about the student's work ethic, responsibility, dedication, etc.


I was all for it until those letters.  Those letters make this sound competitive to get in.  Does anyone know anything about this?  Is it super competitive and rigorous?  Is this something geared for gifted kids?  My guy is a smart cookie, but I wouldn't say he's gifted.  He loves labs and likes to have fun playing around with science gear (microscopes, etc), but I wouldn't say that he's driven or dedicated that way.  He's just a normal kid who would have a blast doing activities in a real lab for fun and for light education, but he would be pretty upset if 6 weeks of his summer was spent on really hard work.


Is this program for kids like him (those who want to go because it's just so much fun) or for super-star students with a drive toward science (who want the intellectual challenge on their summer break)?

Edited by Garga_
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Note: a 45 minute drive to get somewhere isn't a big deal for us in this area.  The drive would all be on one looooong road through farmland at 65 mph with no traffic. We live just far enough away from real civilization that we're used to driving distances to get places.


So, the drive wouldn't deter me.  I just don't want to get my son into something that's waaaay over his head and make this the Worst Summer Vacation Ever.

Edited by Garga
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