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First Highland View Academy STEMfest Draws 400

First STEMfest Draws 400

Story by Lori Zerne

Chesapeake Conference's Highland View Academy’s (HVA) first STEMfest drew nearly 400 people to the school, located in Hagerstown. The HVA Highlanders kicked off the event singing the national anthem, followed by Malcolm Hutchinson, principal, and Rick Remmers, Chesapeake Conference president and school board chairman, providing a short welcome. Ophelia Barizo, vice principal for advancement and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), introduced the keynote speaker, Sohi Rastegar, who is the director of the office of emerging frontiers in research and innovation at the National Science Foundation, Engineering Directorate (Va.). He spoke about the importance of STEM, especially engineering, as well the integration of art and STEM and the relationship between religion and science.

 Alissa Tanguay Brayan Seidl (’16) builds a tower from KEVA Planks. Photo credit: Alissa Tanguay

More than 20 federal and private STEM organizations sent staff to lead interactive activities for students or donated educational materials to give to attendees.

Participating organizations included:

  • NASA
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Genome Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Koshland Museum
  • Mycological Association of Washington, D.C
  • and STEM departments of various colleges and universities, including Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

Four Einstein Fellows volunteered with their respective agencies, NASA and the NSF. The HVA STEM department hosted 10 interactive stations where participants made slime and silly putty, performed chemical reactions, built bridges and structures with various materials, built robots and tested solar robots, and manipulated microcontrollers to do fun things. Steve Gatz, assistant boys dean, also brought out snakes, chameleons and other lizards, and a huge 16-foot python. The HVA gymnasium was abuzz with excitement as students engaged in hands-on learning and discovery, say administrators.

Pictured in the feature photograph: Tyler Messam (’15) holds a baby python. Photo credit: Danny Barizo 

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