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Education Station: Local students visit the USS Cleveland, the Navy's newest ship

A group local middle and high school students got a once in a lifetime experience.

CLEVELAND — The Navy is currently building a Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) named after the city, the USS Cleveland. The local foundation supporting the ship wanted students to get a chance to see it in person. The journey began in the classroom.

Students at Wade Park School built electrical circuits, broke coded messages and learned about meteorology. Part of a new curriculum developed by the USS Cleveland Foundation. A six-lesson course to teach about STEM disciplines that can be pursued in the Navy. From aviation, medical and intelligence. Each lesson came with several hands-on activities.

“Even with the circuit they were trying, and they would fail,” said Wade Park Teacher Melissa Moran. “And so, they would have to try again, so it was a great lesson just on persistence.”

After the classroom work, there will be a big reward - a field trip, on a private plane, to Wisconsin and the Marinette Shipyard to see the USS Cleveland being built.

“We wanted to make sure that we are really making the USS Cleveland project part of the entire Cleveland community,” stated Michael Dovilla, the CEO of the USS Cleveland Foundation. “It is about connecting the ship, which is named for the city, to all different neighborhoods, all different types of people, all different age groups.”

What surprised the students the most was the sheer size of the 378-foot-long ship.

“I didn’t expect it to be that big compared to me,” said Wade Park 8th grader Dominique Woodson.

“The U.S.S. Cleveland is just like the other ones. It’s huge,” echoed Tyshaun Taylor, a sophomore and Garrett Morgan School of Engineering & Innovation.

“And I was also surprised that it took four and a half years to make the ship. I knew it would take years, but I didn’t know it would be that long,” remarked Layla Harden, a 7th Grader at Wade Park School.

They got to see different phases of the ship’s construction. They tried welding with a simulator and learned about the different materials used.

 “I learned that aluminum is lighter than steel, so they put aluminum on the top and steel on the bottom to have a lower center of gravity,” said Taylor

And saw where all the parts of the ship are painted.

“I didn’t know you had to paint; I thought it was a choice,” said Harden. “But they paint it, so it doesn’t rust.”

It was about making that connection from the classroom to a real-life experience.

Woodson remarked, “Once you do the project, you get details, but when you go to the shipyard to get in-depth, it makes sense.”

The students will be able to see the ship again because it will travel to Cleveland to be commissioned in 2024.

“I’ll be excited because it is a part of Cleveland and how it was made and the history behind it,” said Woodson.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on June 16, 2022, as part of the Education Station series. 

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