The Fort Meade Alliance hosted its 9th Annual STEM Family Night on October 23 with more than 400 elementary and middle schools students, along with their parents enjoying an educational night of hands-on STEM activities.
FMA members, community organizations and area schools transformed Arundel Mills Dining Pavilion into as STEM mecca with robots, drones, games, virtual reality and more to get younger students excited about science, technology, engineering and math.
“This event is important because it gets students exposed and interested in STEM activities at an early age,” said Penny Cantwell, FMA Education and Workforce Development Chair. “We are thankful for the community organizations, companies and schools that take the time to come out and create educational activities to excite them.”
Participants included Anne Arundel County Public Library, Anne Arundel Community College, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, BB&T, Capitol Technology University, CCBC Catonsville, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA – Maryland, Lockheed Martin, National Security Agency, National Electronics Museum, Northrop Grumman, Read for Success and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.
Candace Ward of Severna Park attended the event with her two elementary school students.
“They are really into robots, cell phones and space but these are things we can’t explain to them easily. But if we can show them, they realize they can make careers out of this,” she said. “This is fun. They get to explore their creativity.”
The evening’s demonstrations included a wide variety of STEM-focused activities for the students:
• Students saw maps come to life when checking out Anne Arundel County Public Library’s augmented globe.
• Anne Arundel Community College used thermal imaging to teach students about the transfer of energy.
• Anne Arundel County Public Schools gave students the opportunity to create flying rockets, launch marshmallows and code with Minecraft.
• BB&T used games and budgeting tools to teach financial wellness.
• Students were able to check out devices controlled by artificial intelligence at the Capitol Technology University table.
• Visitors had the chance to control drones and experiment with hands-on chemical reaction activites at the CCBC Catonsville tables.
• FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA – Maryland demonstrated robots built by middle and high school students.
• Students learned to code with Ozobots with Lockheed Martin.
• The National Security Agency asked visitors to help robots complete simple tasks like navigating a maze to find different objects, introducing them to basic coding concepts like sequential thinking. The National Cryptologic Museum shared the story of Native Americans from more than two dozen tribes joining the military to serve as code talkers because of their ability to create secret codes for military communication.
• The National Electronics Museum taught about the evolutionary milestones in electronics that led to today’s sophisticated devices.
• Northrop Grumman had students create their own Caesar wheel to learn about cryptology and used popsicle sticks to create catapults that launched mini pumpkins to teach them about engineering.
• Read for Success visitors read a book which would lead them to a hands-on STEAM activity such as using yarn, a ruler and spoon to show how soundwaves work, using photos of butterflies to show symmetry and creating poems.
• Students used virtual reality goggles to explore The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company’s construction projects.
The Fort Meade Alliance created STEM Family Night in an effort to introduce elementary and middle school age students and their parents to STEM-inspired career paths and to further their understanding of how STEM-specific skills are used. STEM Family Night is held annually in the fall.
Click here to view the photos from the event.