STEM Symposium Bringing Superhero World To Life

Virtual reality showcase at STEM Symposium

Virtual reality showcase at the 2017 STEM Symposium.

“Black Panther.” “Justice League.” “Avengers.” “Shazam!” “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The world of fantasy is awash with superhero stories, but the real world is also working to build a generation of superheroes of its own. The 2018 K-12 STEM Symposium will bring some elements of that sci-fi glamour to life with the theme “Super STEM: Building Tomorrow’s Superheroes, Today.”

Nearly 5,000 attendees are expected for the April 14 event at the Nysmith School in Herndon, Virginia. The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include more than 50 exhibitors, at least 20 student showcases and numerous speakers. This year, the event facilitated by WashingtonExec’s STEM Council is expected to sell out.

“The K-12 STEM Symposium has grown to nearly twice the number of participants as the first event in 2013,” said JD Kathuria, CEO and founder of WashingtonExec. “A strong STEM education is increasingly important in today’s world, and the symposium creates an environment in which parents and students can have conversations with leaders in business, government, nonprofit and academia about STEM and what it means to our country’s future.”

There will be 3-D printers, drones, flight simulators, physics experiences, topography models, puzzles, robotics teams and more. Presented by Altamira Technologies, the symposium aims to better link what is learned in the classroom — and what movie-goers are glued to at the box office — with today’s science and technology capabilities. Altamira is a provider of engineering and analytic services headquartered in Tysons Corner.

For years, WashingtonExec has covered key educators, academics and science and technology leaders on their plans to modernize the U.S. STEM workforce pipeline and remain competitive toward foreign nations. However, a key asset to the national STEM human capital recruitment process was missing — the kids.

A 2013 report from the Education Department says the complexities of today’s world require skill sets STEM fields helps develop.

“… A strong STEM education is becoming increasingly recognized as a key driver of opportunity, and data show the need for STEM knowledge and skills will grow and continue into the future,” the report states in part. “Those graduates have practical and relevant STEM precepts embedded into their educational experiences will be in high demand in all job sectors.”

The first K-12 STEM Symposium in 2013 was designed to take those thoughts and the national workforce preparation strategy and localize it to the National Capital Region. With the mission of making science and technology cool, engaging and relevant, the inaugural symposium brought together 2,500 parent, student and educator attendees, 30 interactive exhibitors and 10 prominent speakers.

“Dozens of engaging speakers and exhibitors have participated since the symposium’s founding, including leaders dedicated to disease-eradication, learning through space travel and the development of the technologies of the future,” Kathuria said.

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