On March 22, NOVA’s SySTEMic Solutions hosted its inaugural Loudoun County STEM EXPO at the Loudoun Campus. The free, all-day EXPO attracted more than 500 attendees and provided community members an exciting educational opportunity to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) real-world applications. NOVA faculty and community partners spearheaded STEM sessions, led campus tours and engineered creative STEM exhibits.
Keynote speaker Tom Jones, a former NASA astronaut, engaged the audience with his address, “STEM! Inspiring a New Generation of Explorers,” and afterward welcomed attendees the opportunity to get his autograph and have their photo taken with him.
Jones is a scientist, author and pilot, holding a doctorate in planetary sciences. In more than 11 years with NASA, he flew four space shuttle missions and led multiple space walks.
Exhibits included an array of booths featuring Girls in Technology, National Society of Black Engineers, Loudoun County Public Library, STEM camp programs, robot enthusiasts, colleges and universities and numerous Loudoun County Public Schools programs. A good number of exhibits were manned by high school and college students, which provided a great opportunity for the younger EXPO attendees to connect. One mother said the students were “excellent role models and made an impression with my 10- and 14-year-old kids.”
The EXPO’s primary goal was to encourage students to pursue STEM courses in college.
Many faculty members from both the sciences and humanities divisions came together for the EXPO. Overall, there were more than 30 scheduled presentations covering each of the STEM disciplines. Examples included “Have You Heard of Drones? Watch One Fly Today” by a NOVA student and the Director of Online Operations Gustavo Zastrow (DCdrone.org), “Programming and Angry Birds” by NOVA IT Program instructors Tierney Pitzer and Carolyn Davis, “Extract DNA and Learn About Biotechnology” by NOVA Biology Professor Diane Mucci, “Cannons, Cars and Calculations!” by NOVA Math Instructor Laura Jacyna and “Veterinary Technology – A Career Caring for Animals” by Dr. Amy Laubinger and Dr. Tregel Cockburn (program head for Vet Tech).
Corporate sponsorships and support from the Micron Foundation, Leesburg Today, Telos Corporation and George Mason University helped make the EXPO possible.
For more information about SySTEMic Solutions, please contact Loudoun County STEM Education Coordinator Tosin Adetoro at 703.948.7680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.