STEM Night Plants a New Tradition

By Allison McLellan

Jordan Kovacs, Ryan Chapman, Roy Graham

Jordan Kovacs, Ryan Chapman, Roy Graham

On Monday night, November 16th, the Connecticut Science Center was full of UConn engineering volunteers and young students for the first ever STEM Night.

Organized by UConn’s Engineering Ambassadors, STEM Night was created in order to show kids the creative ways one can get involved with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Engineering Ambassadors strive to motivate young students to engage in STEM fields, in turn becoming motivated themselves while pursuing their own professional futures. MSE volunteers from the UConn Material Advantage student chapter included president Jordan Korvacs, Roy Graham, and Ryan Chapman, who assisted with demonstrations. Additional volunteers came from other UConn engineering groups such as the 3D Printing Club, Society of Women Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Francis Almonte, MSE undergraduate and member of the Engineering Ambassadors, was excited to be part of the occasion. “This event is the start of UConn’s engineering organizations coming together to focus on one thing, which is providing a creative insight on science, technology, engineering, and math fields. However, It does not end there; this one night event can start a spark in each of these students that can be the foundation of their future careers.”

With around 275 students from middle schools and high schools across Connecticut and 40 VIP guest— including the School of Engineering Dean Kazem Kazerounian, Provost Dr. Mun Choi, and guests from various engineering corporations like UTC—this is the largest outreach event that the Engineering Ambassadors have ever planned. The night provided about 18 kid-friendly activities, including demonstrations with dry ice, 3D printing, a robotic hand, prosthetic leg with gak, egg walk, and an oobleck speaker. Named after a Dr. Seuss book, obleck is a new-Newtonian fluid has properties of both liquids and solids

Head organizer of the event was Samantha Brown, Vice President of Internal Affairs for Engineering Ambassadors. A mechanical engineering and geoscience double major, Samantha joined the Ambassadors to inspire young people to follow their passions. “When I was in middle school, I didn’t know what career paths were possible for me to pursue or what engineering was. I know that I have benefited from having role models in STEM and I would like to be a role model for others.”

With such a large turn out, Samantha was thrilled to see the success of her efforts. “It went better than I expected, that’s for sure! Its very difficult to control 275 middle school children all in one place, but the kids absolutely loved it. The VIPs told me they were all very impressed. It ran very smoothly, and all in all it was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for any better volunteers.”

Francis added, “It was amazing seeing the students’ faces when you explain to them some of things engineering is doing right now and what they can do to improve upon it.”

Based on the enthusiastic outcome, the Ambassadors hope to make STEM Night into an annual event.