Hundreds of area high school students were wowed by science during Daytona State’s first-ever STEM Expo held at the News-Journal Center in downtown Daytona Beach on Feb. 8.
The expo was part of Daytona State’s STEM Community Scholars Program that is designed to entice more students to pursue degrees and careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The Science Cheerleaders got the morning off to a stirring start. The group of current and former professional sports cheerleaders, who also are working or pursuing careers in STEM fields, tour the nation to recast the image of scientists and engineers, challenging stereotypes with their own personal stories and encouraging more girls to study the sciences.
Kantis Simmons, a rocket scientist, author and motivational speaker, inspired the students with his story of how he overcame a physical disability and low self-esteem to earn two STEM-related master’s degrees and find success in careers with Mobil Chemical Co., CIBA Vision and NASA.
“The future is whatever you make it be,” he told the students.
LaKisha Holmes, Daytona State math professor and principal investigator on the STEM Community Scholars grant, said the expo was a resounding success. “Our goal was to expose and engage students in the careers and professions that are possible by obtaining degrees in the STEM disciplines,” she said. “Judging by the enthusiasm of all the students, I think we were able to get our message across: that careers in the STEM fields are open to anyone who has the desire and will to pursue them.”
Throughout the day, students were treated to breakout sessions featuring chemists, physicists, engineers and other STEM professionals who introduced them to various scientific concepts in easy to understand and often entertaining ways. Dozens of STEM-related businesses also showcased their wares, as did area colleges and universities. “We thank everyone who came together to make the expo possible, and we’re looking forward to an even better event next year,” Holmes said.
Now in its third year, Daytona State’s STEM Community Scholars Program is funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. In addition to attracting students to STEM-related fields, the program also provides STEM scholars support through scholarships, mentoring and other forms of academic and social activities.
Feb. 8, 2013