A partnership that began this past March between Morgan State University (MSU) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has expanded MSU’s role in developing much-needed talent in STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through the initiative, Morgan’s Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE), which is housed within the School of Education and Urban Studies, has been designated as the East Coast Hub for the recently launched Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC), an organization whose goal is to strengthen STEM education and STEM outreach programs in kindergarten through college across the country. CEMSE’s region — Washington, D.C.; Maryland and Northern Virginia (DMV) — is the largest of three that make up the Consortium. The others are in Dayton, Ohio, and San Diego, California.
As part of this collaboration, Morgan hosted a day-long free STEM Expo attended by hundreds of K-12 students. Themed “Quantum Literacy in the Quantum Age” the expo activities included STEM professional development for K-8 teachers, engagement with Vex and Lego Robotics, forensic science investigations, demonstrations, and an ATLAS Conference for high school students.
“What we’re charged to do is to work with underserved and military-connected communities in terms of providing professional development for teachers, academic enrichment for K–12 students and internships for undergraduate students in this area,” says CEMSE Director Kevin Peters, Ph.D. CEMSE is already fully engaged in strengthening the pipeline to STEM careers, Dr. Peters said, through programs such as the annual Morgan State STEM Expo and CEMSE’s Near Peer Mentoring Program.
The Expo, launched in 2013, provides hands-on STEM activities to middle school and high school students from the Baltimore metropolitan area, to encourage them to explore career opportunities in the STEM fields. In addition, undergraduate students have the opportunity to dialogue with STEM professionals in business, industry and federal and state agencies from around the region.
“The good news is that student participation in the Expo grew exponentially this year,” said CEMSE Special Projects Coordinator Katrina Robinson, lead organizer of the event, which was held on Nov. 9 at Morgan’s Murphy Fine Arts Center. Presenters included Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones; U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, honorary chair of the event, who sent a video greeting; and representatives of six DoD laboratories. CEMSE has longstanding relationships with the labs, which are providing internships to students at Morgan and other higher education institutions in the DMV region.
CEMSE’s Near Peer Mentoring Program sends Morgan biology students to three Baltimore area high schools to guide the younger students through STEM training.
“A significant outcome is that two of the nine mentors got full-time positions at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center) as research laboratory specialists and one is now a teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools,” Dr. Peters reported.