COLLEGE PARK – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities in Prince George’s County have really grown over the last couple of years and since they recently added the component of arts, many students are shocked at what they are learning. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation hosted […]
COLLEGE PARK – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities in Prince George’s County have really grown over the last couple of years and since they recently added the component of arts, many students are shocked at what they are learning.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks and Recreation hosted its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Festival kickoff event to provide information on all the events it will be hosting during the Maryland STEM Festival. The event was held on Nov. 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the College Park Aviation Museum.
“There are going to be a lot of jobs in the STEAM field so why not get our young people involved now. We get emails all of the time about schools and colleges wanting young people to major in science, technology, arts, engineering and math,” said Carlotta Wade, recreation specialist for the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation. “Sometimes the students don’t know what they like until they are introduced to it and then they can get paid for things that they like to do and love.”
The Maryland STEAM Festival provides inspirational, educational and accessible programming in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics throughout Maryland. The festival was featured in the county from Nov. 6 to 15.
“We want people to get a taste of all the activities. Everything is hands on and the kids love everything that is hands on,” Wade said. “We had some kids that are excited about making slime. I think what’s so great about it is that all of these things are things you can find in your house that you can use for experiments.”
The M-NCPPC STEAM committee, led by Brittany Lassiter, said the Maryland STEM Festival’s mission is to provide inspirational, educational, and accessible programming in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) throughout Maryland. Through a week of collaborative, interactive and dynamic events and activities throughout the state, the festival displays Maryland’s STEM success and further connects the current and future leaders in STEM.
“This is the first time our organization is participating in the Maryland STEM festival. This type of event is important because as the world becomes more and more technology focused, we need to make sure our young people develop an interest regarding their future careers,” said Roslyn Johnson, Department of Parks and Recreation facility operations deputy director. “We also want them to know that STEAM is fun and exciting and they can excel in the fields represented. Getting the young people to our doors is the first step and their natural curiosity and a desire to understand some really cool stuff should take care of the rest.”
Johnson said the organization’s goal is to introduce children to as many new experiences as possible so they, along with their parents, can determine where their interests lay.
“Imagine that you can get paid to make slime. At the festival, you can also make phones that the President of the United States uses,” Wade said. “STEAM is so large and raw because people are still learning about it. Imagine that you can make apps that are tailored to bullying and things related to community.”
Parents are able to discover information about a myriad of upcoming free, fun, innovative and stimulating activities in Prince George’s County that children can participate in during the festival. Lori Smith, mother of local student Leila Smith, said her daughter is interested in subjects such as science and math and wants to become an astronomer when she grows up.
“I think this will open up the students’ world to new ways for learning, taking it back to their school and sparking some ideas for science projects, especially those in fourth, fifth and sixth grade, to spark their curiosity,” Lori said. “Just from being here today for a few minutes my daughter already wants to go to the robotics competition and a few other events they have planned.”
Leila was enjoying herself at the STEAM festival while drawing on a digital art pad that allows students to explore various activities on a device that combines the on-screen experience of a Cintiq pen display with the mobility of a tablet.
She said science and technology are important to children and teens like her because they can learn new things.
“I like watching a lot of movies and when I play games its like I’m in my own world because it’s my sci-fi fantasy world. Science and math is the same thing, so if I want to get into Harvard or the University of Maryland, I have to learn this,” Leila said.
Leila said she already has a Kindle, but is adding the digital art pad to her Christmas list.
Like many parents who participated in the STEAM Festival, Lori and Leila enjoyed seeing how Prince George’s County is continuing to build on the STEAM program and look forward to seeing more in the near future.