The seventh annual Baltimore STEM Day Extravaganza at Morgan State University (MSU) on Saturday, September 8, 2018, turned out favorably— attracting hundreds from Baltimore City and the surrounding areas to participate in a fun-filled day of interactive and educational STEM-related activities.
The event, started to encourage school-aged children— particularly black inner-city youth— to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related fields has emerged as one of the most anticipated educational gatherings in Baltimore City.
Jonathan Wilson, an associate professor of biology at Morgan State, one of main originators is the coordinator of the STEM event, which has been held on the campus of Morgan State since 2012.
“We started it because we wanted to open the experience up to more people who were not available or privileged to come to the Saturday Academy,” said Wilson, also the director of the Baltimore MUREP (Minority University Research Education Program) Aerospace Academy. “We were asked to do more for the community people, other than those who come to the Saturday Academy or the summer program. So we decided to do what is called a STEM Day.”
The parents, students and other attendees got a taste for an activity-filled day of hands-on sessions while learning the quality and essence of STEM.
There is an apparent shortage of black professionals in STEM-related careers, and one of the primary objectives of the extravaganza is to encourage black students to think bigger of themselves than what they perhaps might have in the past.
The yearly extravaganzas, according to Wilson, also aims to enable black students and other minorities to aspire to become scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and to leverage their knowledge to empower and impact their communities. He added that the STEM extravaganza has made substantial progress over the years and has yielded a great deal of positive feedback from the community.
Dozens of exhibitors and presenters from various national, regional and local STEM organizations and agencies were present, some of which included: American Nuclear Society; Army Research Lab; Baltimore MAA; Carnegie Institute-Bio Eyes; Exelon; It’s a Noisy Planet; Maryland Science Center; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The aforementioned exhibitors had representatives that provided hands-on interactive activities and various mind-intriguing science experiments, all with the common goal of providing parents and families with educational materials and techniques to keep their children interested in academics— specifically in the STEM field.
Miquel Moe, an electrical engineer from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, an exhibitor at the STEM event presented the hands-on exhibit “Ready, Set, Go to Space.”
Scores of interested children came to the NASA table to make satellites with wooden sticks, styrofoam and aluminum foil as they learned the importance of their involvement in science and engineering.
“It’s wonderful,” said Moe, a Baltimore native and Morgan State alum in characterizing the STEM extravaganza. “To see all of these different organizations out here doing hands-on activities with the kids, inspiring kids to do STEM, it’s like invaluable. It’s just so important, especially for this community, to do things like this.”
Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh expressed her gratutude for the concerted efforts of Wilson, NASA, Morgan State and the other partner institutions and sponsors that made the STEM extravaganza a success.
Pugh, who is a Morgan State graduate, also presented a proclamation to Wilson and his colleagues and partners recognizing September 8, 2018, as “SEEMA Day STEM Extravaganza” in the City of the Baltimore, urging “all citizens to join in this celebration of educational choices in the STEM field.”
Morgan State President David Wilson also spoke to the crowd gathered in Hill Field House before the festivities began. He said 70 percent of Baltimore City students involved in STEM go on to college.
Michael Canady, one of the many parents who attended the event said that STEM had a profound influence on him during his academic career. He played basketball while attending Morgan and now teaches fifth grade science at Moravia Park Elementary.
“I feel it’s important for our children, at a young age, to [be] introduced to this kind of stuff,” said Canady, who brought his four-year-old daughter, Lauren experience some of the activities.
In years to come, the STEM Day Extravaganza is expected to grow in influence and impact on the Baltimore community.