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Alpha Kappa Alpha hosts STEM and Leadership summit

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“This is what is inside of an NFL football helmet,” Kenico Hines, equipment manager for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens told the audience of more than 100 students. “20 years ago, most of the padding in the helmet used to be on the top of the head. Scientific research has shown that a great deal of the brain injury that football players sustain, comes from sideways collisions which is why you now see padding on the inner sides of the helmet as well as on the top.”

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Mr. Hines went on to show and describe other football equipment used by the Baltimore Ravens and other NFL franchises, which have in large part been generated due to knowledge of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

On March 15, three Washington DC area chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hosted a STEM and Leadership Summit at Francis C. Hammond Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. The Phi Nu Omega, Psi Rho Omega, Xi Upsilon Omega and Zeta Chi Omega chapters all collaborated to host the event.

The summit was designed to support the signature international program initiative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. titled Emerging Young Leaders (EYL). This initiative was intended to provide a forum to equip and excite young people about STEM. The initiative was started by Alpha Kappa Alpha several years ago and the STEM and the Leadership summit was the culmination of that effort, as chapters all around the country hosted similar events.

The summit consisted of three sessions. During the opening session titled Leadership and the STEM universe, the students heard talks about various aspects of leadership, life skills and decision making from speakers such as the Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of the city of Baltimore.

The second segment consisted of breakout sessions where students explored “STEM Zones” where they were able to participate in hands on science demonstrations and also talk with representatives from companies such as Excelcis and Program Enterprise Office Information Systems (PEEIS). Other groups on hand were the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Art Way Alliance and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc. There were also stations titled Everyday STEM Fun=STEM Career, and STEM Girls Rock! Lastly there was a Parents only session titled Raising Children in the 21st Century.

The final session was titled STEM Recap, and featured a talk about STEM engagement and a hands on activity for the entire group.

“Companies such as Coca Cola have several new innovations to their products coming soon,” said Darold Hamlin, Chief Operating Officer of Logistics Systems, Inc. “You can’t get involved in any of these innovations unless you have training in STEM.”

“I will be the client. Choose one person from your table to come and talk to me about what my needs are,” Marcel Anderson of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the NOVA STEM Alliance enthusiastically directed students in an activity where he challenged the students to determine his needs for a product as a business client, and to figure out a technical and financial strategy to address his particular needs. He chose a couple of groups as winners based upon how they handled him as a client.

At the end of the activity, Mr. Anderson told the students, “The groups that were successful at this activity, were the ones who came to me and addressed my specific needs. When you’re working in STEM, you often have to figure out the what and the how right there on the spot. You have to pull multiple pieces together right the on the fly. You have to figure out how to make something out of nothing and achieve your objective.”

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