SMCPS Promotes STEM 4 All at STEM Expo - Southern Maryland Headline News

SMCPS Promotes STEM 4 All at STEM Expo




LEXINGTON PARK, Md.—In St. Mary's County science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a big deal. We hear STEM everyday flying over in the form of military aircraft. We carry STEM around everywhere we go in the shape of smartphones, tablets and laptops. We even depend on STEM for things like traffic lights, radio shows and watching the big football game every weekend.

STEM is everywhere, which is why it is one of the most sought after fields by employers today. The United State Department of Commerce calculated that STEM employment grew rapidly from 2000 to 2010, increasing 7.9 percent and projecting that STEM jobs will continue growing at an astonishing pace, rising 17 percent between 2008 and 2018.

No wonder St. Mary's County Public Schools (SMCPS) is set on creating a fun and interactive environment to explore the world of STEM. Last month, SMCPS held a STEM Festival and Expo at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center. It was an all-day event and part of the statewide Maryland STEM Festival, focused on reaching out and provoking the interest of students outside of the county's official STEM academy program.

"Our STEM academies are an excellent resource, and enhancing them with overarching STEM activities available to all students will benefit our schools and our community," said Scott Smith superintendent of SMCPS.

Over 35 different vendors were present for the event, including The Patuxent Partnership (TPP) benefactor Raytheon, Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the University of Maryland (UMD) UAS Test Site and Mathnasium. Vendors provided hands-on experiences for the participants such as a UAS simulator from the UMD UAS Test Site, math puzzles and games from Mathnasium, and straw rockets from Raytheon.

"TPP appreciates the work of our benefactors and members who promote 'STEM 4 All' and is pleased to be able to foster STEM through our generous grant from the Office of Naval Research," Bonnie Green, TPP executive director said.

Almost 400 participants visited the STEM Festival and Expo from kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school levels. Students were able to participate in several different activities such as flying jets at the Pax River Flight Academy and making ice cream and extracted DNA from strawberries, courtesy of the STEM Academy teachers and students. They programed robo finches, made possible by a donation from TPP to SMCPS and tested their game skills in a cardboard carnival created by STEM Academy students. These interactive activities showcase the power of STEM.

One of the most popular exhibits was the Pax River Flight Academy where students were able to fly aircraft using the high-end technology provided by TPP and NAWCAD in 2013. Lyn Whitmer, previous Pax River Flight Academy instructor, was present to provide air controller assistance and guide the students as the experienced flight for the first time. "I've always loved to fly," Whitmer said. "…and to be able to pass my love of aviation on to the future generation of aviators is a true privilege."

This year's STEM Festival and Expo showed an increase in participants and vendors and was a huge success according to program organizers.

To learn more about STEM activities in St. Mary's County, visit TPP's STEM website at www.STEM-Link.org.

The Patuxent Partnership works with government, industry and academia on initiatives in science and technology, hosts programs of interest to NAWCAD, NAVAIR and the broader DoD community, and supports workforce development including education initiatives and professional development. Visit www.paxpartnership.org or call 301-866-1739.

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