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    STEM NOLA revolution takes on Baton Rouge

    “GO. SEE. DO,” IS THE MESSAGE CALVIN MACKIE, Ph.D., is spreading with a STEM revolution that is exposing young people to
    math and science interactively. The mission is to grow future innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs through inspiration,
    engagement, and exposure.

    “There is power in doing,” said Mackie. “At some point we have to get up off our behinds and do. We have to stop talking and planning and actually do something.”  #LetsGoPeople is the hashtag Mackie adds to the end of every Facebook post, prompting his more than 16,000 followers to action. “I remember speaking with Dr. Cornell West and I whispered to him, ‘I am going to bring social justice to STEM,’” said Mackie, who taught engineering for more than 12 years at Tulane University in New Orleans. To do so, he established STEM NOLA to give children and teens opportunities to experience and gain knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics once a month—and in a big way. “If we give our kids the right skills now in math, science and technology, paired with their own creativity, they can create things the world never seen before,” said Mackie who has mentored thousands of college scientists. He has taken this message to audiences at NY Life, Morehouse University, Hillsborough Community College, and to researchers with the J Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, Discovery Communications, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award-winning science mentor uses the STEM program to emphasize the importance of taking what is learned to create something new and compete with other youth from across the globe. He said for someone to own the future in the 21st century, “he or she must first create the future and for people of color to find a genius in their community. It is not enough to invest in only a select few, but to support and build up every child, teen, and young adult.” “We celebrate the fact that we have a million boys and girls playing sports dreaming to be one of 60 to get drafted,” he said. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, Tulane University eliminated its engineering program and fired Mackie. “So I decided, as Lebron James says, to ‘take my talents back home’.” Mackie said and chuckled. 

    Stem Nola 2

    After 12 years of dedicating his life to students in the classroom, the Morehouse graduate felt he could reach a larger number of young people and make a bigger impact by working directly in the community and enlighten his students on the importance of STEM in today’s world. “Why should I prepare my kid to go through a crack when there is a wide open gate of opportunity to go through”? He shared that opportunity in conjunction with Baton Rouge Community College. The STEM NOLA team came to the capitol city to give high school students the opportunity to experience life science, energy, and force using Mackie’s interactive module. What sets STEM NOLA apart from the classroom experience is the high energy activities the students complete in small groups in order to retain the information that was taught during a lecture. For three days, sixty high school students met the STEM NOLA challenge during Spring Break. On the first day, the lecture and lab covered life science and the heart. Mackie taught the importance of a healthy lifestyle in relation to the heart and how proper rest affects the heart’s circulatory system. Afterwards, the students built a four-chamber mechanical heart out of everyday materials and had the opportunity to dissect the four-chamber heart of a sheep. The next day was energy day. Students spent the first part of the day learning about active and passive solar energy. To aid with the understanding of solar energy, the group built solar energy houses that were placed outside to see which house allowed the least amount of sun inside. To track the amount of sun that each house allowed in, the rate of the increase heat for each house was measured. The house that increased at the lowest rate in heat was declared the winner and received a prize. Later that day, Mackie’s group was given windmill kits to put design and measure the amount of voltage from the windmill. The final day featured force in motion using paper and other household materials to create a rocket that could be launched by compressed air. The group launched solid rockets that could reach up to an altitude of 700 feet with the right booster.  “BRCC saw what we did in New Orleans and said the kids in Baton Rouge deserved to experience something like this,” said Mackie. STEM NOLA is held in New Orleans every second Saturday of the month. It is also part of a national maker movement. ONLINE: www.stemnola.org

    BY BRIANA BROWNLEE
    JOZEF SYNDICATE REPORTER

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    Saul takes top engineering prize

    Industrial engineering senior Briana Saul recently received first place at the LSU Undergraduate Research Conference for Engineering Level 2 Researchers.

    “The first year I presented, as a Level 1 researcher, I didn’t win anything,” Saul said. “It’s funny to see how everything has turned around. It was definitely my goal to my push myself further, and it paid off.”

    Saul’s award-winning presentation featured research on the handoff process, the passing of information between two professionals during a shift change, in the community paramedic program in the East Baton Rouge Parish.

    This research project is the result of a grant application Saul was introduced to during a conference. In December 2014, she applied for the Supervised Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) grant, a grant supported by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The SURE grant requires applicants to conceptualize their own research interests and projects, collect and analyze data and report the findings.

    “The community paramedic program is different from most handoff programs. With other occupations you complete a 12-hour shift, handoff off your information within 10 minutes and you’re one,” Saul said. “With the paramedic program, you’re handing off information after one month of completing a shift.”

    With her research, Saul aimed to answer the questions: How are they handing off this information after one full month of a shift? How much are they handing off? How much of this information is retained?

    Though Saul was unable complete the implementation process of program, she was able to collect the necessary feedback and data.

    “One phase of data collection focused on how prepared the paramedic was before going on a shift or visit,” Saul said.

    Saul collected data through multiple practices, including ride-along sessions with community paramedics, surveys and general observations. The next set of data was to measure the amount of information that was shared and then retained.

    “They had meetings where they would discuss what went on throughout the month, and I’d ask the ongoing paramedic the five things I was looking for. I’d then follow up with looking at the agreement percentage between what was said by the previous paramedic.”

    The Austin, TX native also received an honorable mention the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Fall Regional Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, for her paramedic research the day after she received her first place recognition.

    Much of Saul’s campus involvement included NSBE, a student-led organization of which she was a member of for six years.

    Read more at LSU

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    HBCU climate change conference comes to New Orleans, March 26-29

    Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in collaboration with the Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs will host the Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference March 26-29 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference is designed to strengthen the partnerships between students and faculty at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and organization leaders from climate-impacted communities. It is a response to the call for HBCUs to step up and lead on climate justice since many of the schools are located in communities that are on the frontline of climate assault. The Third Annual HBCU Student Climate Change Conference theme is “Bridging the Gap between Theory and Experience.”

    ,Ph.D., known as the father of environmental justice, will be the keynote speaker. He is the author of image001seventeen books that address sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity. Professor Bullard was featured in the July 2007 CNN People You Should Know, Bullard: Green Issue is Black and White. In 2008, Newsweek named him one of 13 Environmental Leaders of the Century. And that same year, Co-op America honored him with its Building Economic Alternatives Award.
    More than 80 percent of the 104 HBCUs are located in the Southern United States. Forty-three HBCUs are located in the Gulf Coast States: TX (9), LA (7), AL (15), MS (8), and FL (4)–in cities like New Orleans and Houston that are at ground zero in the fight for climate justice. Nearly a decade ago, flooding from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans drowned that city’s three HBCUs (Dillard University, Xavier University and Southern University at New Orleans) in 2005. Three years later, Hurricane Ike caused major property damage to Texas Southern University in Houston–the nation’s fourth largest HBCU. Read more at: OpEdNews.com
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