Hundreds of Young People Attend STEM NOLA Event in New Orleans East

A table adorned with STEM NOLA banner and loaded with student creations at the STEM NOLA Saturday event at Joe W. Brown Park, 5/14/2022 | Photo by Jennsen Bentley

Over 350 students, parents, and volunteers attended the STEM NOLA event at Joe W. Brown Park in New Orleans East on Saturday, where they learned about electricity and circuits. The event was hosted by Entergy and featured volunteers from technology and defense companies from across the Greater New Orleans area, including Boeing, which is currently building NASA’s Space Launch System at the Michoud campus in New Orleans East.

Students work to build simple circuits with the help of STEM NOLA instructors and volunteers from Entergy and Boeing. | Photo by Jennsen Bentley

Dr. Mackie is passionate about making STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – accessible to New Orleans youth, and to youth all over the world. STEM NOLA and STEM Global Action have now had events in seven US states and five different countries. Most recently, they held a virtual event for students in Tanzania.

STEM NOLA founder Dr. Calvin Mackie demonstrates how robots can already mimic human dance moves at the STEM NOLA Saturday at Joe W. Brown Park in New Orleans East 5/14/2022. | Photo by Jennsen Bentley

“In the 21st century, our children will only have three options: they will take something, break something, and/or make something,” Dr. Mackie told parents at the event. “We want to give our children the education, motivation, and inspiration to make something – make a living, make a life, make a difference… that’s why we founded STEM NOLA.”

Blue Origin SVP of Strategy, Marketing & Sales, and Club for the Future Board President Michael Edmonds addresses attendees of the STEM NOLA Saturday Event at Joe W. Brown Park 5/14/2022. | Photo by Jennsen Bentley

“To all you parents and volunteers in this room, it is unbelievable what you are doing here, and what Calvin and Tracy are doing to get the community to support this and to drive this forward,” said Michael Edmonds, Blue Origin Senior Vice President of Strategy, Marking & Sales, and Club for the Future Board President. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and I am absolutely in awe.”

Dr. Calvin Mackie congratulates Alice Harte Charter School 8th grader Raleigh Brock at a STEM NOLA Saturday event on 5/14/2022. Brock will compete in the NAACP ACT-CO national competition in July.

During the event, Dr. Mackie took time to recognize Raleigh Brock, an eighth grade student at Alice Harte Charter School. Brock will head to Atlantic City, NJ in July to compete at the NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technical and Scientific Olympics convention in July with a project on solar energy she created at a STEM NOLA event.

“I created three cars using STEM NOLA equipment, and I positioned the solar panels differently. One of the cars had Popsicle sticks on it to make the solar panels higher, another one was slanted on the motor and the last one was flat on the top of the car. I experimented outside to see which one went fastest in a three-foot distance,” Brock explained. “It’s to show that if you use more solar energy you can help the environment more because we use gas a lot. If you use solar energy you can see how far it can take you. The more solar energy you use the better we can do for the environment.”

Raleigh’s project won first place at both her school’s science fair and the Greater New Orleans Science Fair. She then won first place in the junior division of the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair held in Baton Rouge. She also took home a special award in the Fair’s transportation category and a $200 price.

“We’re just proud of the fact that she took a STEM NOLA project that she built here, that she learned about here and she turned it into something bigger,” Mackie said. “That’s the possibilities for our children when they participate in events like this. We hear about it in sports, but now STEM NOLA is seeing the seeds that have been planted, and our kids are moving forward with the knowledge that they’ve acquired here to be able to compete all around the world.”

Students work to build simple circuits with the help of STEM NOLA instructors and volunteers from Entergy and Boeing.

Following a brief introduction of the volunteers, students split into groups where they worked on creating paper circuits, brush bots, edible circuits, and series-parallel circuits. Finally, younger children in grades K-2 were able to build a flashlight, while those in grades 3-12 build a stoplight. Throughout the event, volunteers talked about how the circuits the children were building could be used in larger systems like robots, rockets, and city power grids.

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