The sixth annual K-12 STEM Symposium at the Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon, Virginia, on March 30 drew in more than 3,000 students, parents, teachers, industry leaders, government techies and academics alike to celebrate STEM opportunities and discoveries.
The event was facilitated by WashingtonExec and its presenting sponsor Riverside Research. This year’s theme was “The Power of Curiosity,” which was embodied throughout the day’s hands-on science and technology demonstrations, innovative and inspiring speakers, student showcases and corporate and academic exhibitors.
The symposium is designed to spark careers in STEM in young students, help them discover the new and exciting possibilities in the STEM fields and learn about computer coding, space, 3D printing, drones, connected cars and health care.
Speakers included former NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, Deputy Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Peter Highnam and Chirag Parikh from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Office of Sciences and Methodologies.
Attendees also heard from Kirthi Kumar, a junior at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and founder of SheSoft, a nonprofit with a mission to “Promote building software applications in young girls to bridge the gender gap in technology.”
Other highlights include Riverside Research’s hands-on mini Open Innovation Center with artificial intelligence, machine learning, radar engineering, optics and plasma physics demonstrations that had spectators dancing and creating; and Perspecta’s computer flight simulator.
In one of the school’s science labs, biochemist and former NASA astronaut Lawrence J. DeLucas held science space particle demonstrations. And on stage, educators Ann Bonitatibus, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School of Science & Technology, and Tinell Priddy, principal of the Academies of Loudoun, discussed the opportunities and culture of their respective program offerings.
Perhaps the most outgoing feature was Slapshot, the official mascot for the Washington Capitals.
Along with Riverside Research and Nysmith, this year’s sponsors included Perspecta, The Aerospace Corp., Array, Technology Management Associates, Sage Communications and AT&T.