By Casey McGee, STEM NOLA Director of Communications
GRAMBLING, La. May 28, 2022 –– The Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center on the campus of Grambling State University has been electrified by the energy of students exposed to the power of STEM learning.
Saturday’s event was organized by STEM Grambling State, an affiliate of STEM Global Action, which provides children with hands-on experiences with fun STEM-related projects that aim to build positive attitudes and confidence towards science, technology , engineering and mathematics.
“We want to engage more minority students in STEM, we want to get more people to Silicon Valley, more doctors, more engineers,” said Dana Allen, director of programs for STEM Global Action. “There has been a decline of minorities in STEM fields, so the more we engage them in the community where they are, bringing them STEM, the more likely we are to increase their chances of entering those fields. “
More than 100 students, parents and volunteers participated in the themed STEM Saturday focused on teaching K-12 students about circuits and electricity to help them understand how circuits are used to power home appliances. every day.
“Grambling is one of those partner institutions that loves having K-12 students here to learn, feel, do and create their own things in STEM,” said GSU Director of Academic Communications Tisha Arnold. . “Just to see them working with the circuits and electrical parts to make their own traffic lights. These are things you will remember for years to come.
Two GSU biology professors and 10 undergraduate students volunteered their time to work directly with participants and guide them through the activities.
One such volunteer was Stephon Hardin, who is majoring in engineering technology with a concentration in drafting and design.
“I wanted to volunteer and help kids because I thought it would be something interesting and fun to do to bring kids on board with STEM,” Hardin said. “I always wanted to do something like this, especially growing up in Winnsboro, Louisiana. It’s a small town and we haven’t had a lot of opportunities, so to be able to do something that involves kids to get them on the right path to wanting to learn and grow is amazing.
STEM Grambling launched its programming in partnership with Grambling State University President Rick Gallot, Jr., Magic Johnson’s Sodexo Magic, and STEM NOLA powered by Entergy in November 2019 with a STEM Fest. A total of 425 K-12 students, 250 parents, 70 university interns and 25 local professional volunteers participated in the event which included 50 hands-on activities.
STEM Fest was followed by STEM Grambling’s first STEM Saturday in January 2020, which focused on teaching 100 K-12 students the power of chemistry. They engaged in various activities such as pop rockets, lava lamps, and molecular structures and built battery-powered chemical clocks.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, programming shifted to a virtual environment, allowing students in Grambling and surrounding areas to continue their STEM learning with monthly programming. Since its inception, STEM Grambling has now engaged over 1,200 K-12 students and 200 GSU students as interns to make a collective impact in the community.
In February, two GSU students were celebrated for appearing on the cover of a commemorative print issue of EBONY magazine highlighting the HBCU STEM Queens competition for students achieving success in STEM fields. One of the girls, Destney Johnson, is a former STEM Grambling volunteer who worked with students at events in fall 2020 and fall 2021.
Johnson, who majored in computer information systems, said she got involved with the nonprofit “because my goals align with STEM NOLA’s mission and I have a passion for STEM, community service and youth.”
GSU leaders and STEM NOLA Founder, Dr. Calvin Mackie, work collectively to ensure minorities are better represented in STEM fields and act within the nonprofit’s mission to Develop, Engage, Exhibit and inspire future innovators, creators, makers and entrepreneurs.
“It’s always an exception to see a person of color in a tech field and it’s something we’re all working to change. We’re always trying to move that needle,” Arnold said. “Even as a first producer of African American computer science graduates and the state’s only cybersecurity program, we’re just getting started. We’ve been around for 120 years, so the effort doesn’t stop, and just being able to partner with organizations like STEM NOLA is a big step.