PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- For more than two decades, employees from all walks of life have been bringing their children into the workplace for a very special day of recognition known as "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work" or "Bring Your Child to Work Day."

It is estimated that more than 37 million youth and 3.5 million workplaces participate in the program each year.

Picatinny Arsenal has been participating in the event for ten years according to Jane Krueger, president of the Picatinny Chapter of Women in Defense.

"Working together with employers, employees, parents, mentors, and educators is key to creating a successful day that strengthens the connection between education and work and relationships between parents and their children," said Krueger.

Krueger has been organizing the event for all 10 years and says that phone calls and emails start to trickle in at the beginning of March with questions as to when the event will be held and how to register if employees missed the cut-off the year before.

The first year saw children gather for a breakfast at the Cannon Gates Catering and Conference Center and a sight-seeing opportunity around the Arsenal. Over the years it has evolved through networking and assistance from the Women in Defense organization, providing hands-on interaction of many technical and tactical systems developed here at Picatinny.

The tour usually consists of about 160 children and 30 chaperones filling four busses that stop at four tour locations. Two of the consistent tour stops over the years have been the Prototyping Integration Facility and the Doltz Armament Software Engineering building. This year 175 children participated.

Children visited both those locations as well as the Navy Turret Facility. But what really sparked their interest was when they were able to climb inside an Abrams tank and take a photo there and alongside the tank.

Before the tour started the children heard some introductory remarks as well as videos providing an overview of the mission of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), the largest organization at Picatinny Arsenal.

Kurt McNeely, Col. (Ret.), now director of ARDEC's Warfighter Central Division, encouraged participation from the youngsters by teaching them several commands used in the military.

"By being the child of a soldier or Department of the Army civilian, you are a part of the Army," McNeely told the children.

This was the first year that Morgan Urban, 12, participated in the tour. On her first stop at the Doltz building, Ralph Tillinghast, Lab Director, Collaboration Innovation Lab, scanned Urban's face with a 3D scanner and a photo appeared on a screen.

"You could take this photo and have a bobble-head doll of yourself printed if you wanted," Tillinghast told Urban.

"This is very cool stuff. When would you ever see this stuff?" Urban said of the tour opportunity.

Also at the Doltz building, Urban and others stepped inside an M1064 tracked mortar carrier, where they viewed a 120mm digital mortar fire control system, and also learned about the M777 howitzer.

"The howitzer is made mostly of titanium so it is lightweight yet durable, but able to meet the requirement of weighting less than 10,000 pounds so a Blackhawk can lift and transport it," the children were told by Jason Downing, Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS).

Rebecca Krueger, 7, Jane's daughter, a bit shy, had just two words to describe the day. "It's cool."

Angel Gonzalez, 12, son of Angel Gonzalez Sr., an ARDEC Product Assurance Engineer said this is the second time he has visited the Arsenal on Bring Your Child to Work Day.

"It is amazing how the engineers can build and enhance all this stuff for our soldiers," Gonzalez said.

In previous years students toured the America's Army computer game training software center and learned how future technologies protect soldiers on the battled with exposure to the Common Remotely Operated Weapon System. They also gained experience in maneuvering robots with the soldiers at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Directorate.

"Some of what we expose these young children to will hopefully help them make a decision to one day enter into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program," Krueger said.

"We estimate that over the last decade there have been about 1,400 children from ages 7 to 12 exposed to this tour, many of them have been able to participate multiple years, with each being able to see something different each year," Krueger added.