Free, new event at VSU gives K-12 students and parents hands-on learning experiences in STEM + Agriculture

Virginia 4-H Half-Day Event Will Promote STEM + Agriculture to K-12 Students and Parents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 14, 2018

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964, 

Virginia State University (VSU) is offering a new, free event for children K-12 called STEAM Fest that will help spark their interest in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math (STEAM). STEAM FEST is based on STEM NOLA, the brainchild of Dr. Calvin Mackie, a former Tulane University engineering professor, and is designed to grow future innovators, creators and entrepreneurs through inspiration, engagement andexposure. STEM NOLA is a nonprofit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that delivers STEM programs, events and activities in underserved communities.

STEAM Fest will be held at the VSU Multipurpose Center on Saturday, January 26, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Dr. Maurice Smith Jr., 4-HExtension specialist in Youth Development, Citizenship & Leadership Development, anticipates that as many as 300 K-12 students and their parents will participate in hands-on activities and experiments, and design and build products. Youth will explore science and experience technology in new ways, and at the same time gain exposure to a college campus.  

“This event is important to help youth develop an interest in STEAM and STEAM-based leaning activities,” said Smith. “We hope students participating in this event will become engaged and begin thinking about the opportunities and possibilities of STEAM-based careers and simultaneously learn invaluable critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills.”

STEM is an integral part of Virginia’s K-12 curriculum. According to the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) website, “STEM literacy is the ability to identify and acknowledge science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts and processes in everyday life.” The Virginia DOE is committed to developing students’ STEM literacy skills to ensure their success in any profession. An article published by the Pew Research Center stated that employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent since 1990, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. And a Pew Research Center study of U.S. Census Bureau data suggests STEM workers earn more than non-STEM workers with similar levels of education.  

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited, so register early. To register, visit, click on the event and then click on the registration link. If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Jessica Harris at or call (804) 524-5964 / TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg. 


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