Arsen Klyuev is a second-year student at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering, but the computer science and applied mathematics double major found himself channeling his inner third-grader when working with elementary school children at a recent event at Barclay Elementary/Middle School.
"It was doing stuff like this that got me interested in becoming an engineer in the first place," he said, handing out words of encouragement, advice, and enthusiastic high fives to the steady stream of kids visiting the "Learning From Failure" booth at the Science and Engineering Expo, held April 19 at the school near JHU's Homewood campus.
The expo brought Johns Hopkins University and Bethesda-based global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin to Barclay for a showcase of the science and engineering projects that students have been working on in their classrooms all year. The event also marked the beginning of a partnership between the Whiting School and Lockheed Martin aimed at enhancing STEM opportunities for Baltimore City public school students—including those at Barclay. Through the partnership, Lockheed is contributing financial and staff support, as well as technical expertise to the engineering school's Center for Educational Outreach, a team of educators, engineers, and scientists dedicated to inspiring and preparing pre-K through 12th-grade students to pursue STEM education and careers.
During the expo, about 100 Barclay students and 50 adult family members and guardians explored science, technology, engineering, and math through displays of classroom projects, a family "egg drop" engineering challenge, and 10 hands-on activities organized and staffed by the engineering school's Clark Scholars, with help from members of the university's Engineers Without Borders club. The Clark Scholars program prepares students for leading roles in engineering and business.
At Klyuev's booth, a steady stream of children tried their hands at folding sheets of aluminum foil into little "boats" capable of remaining afloat in a container of water when a clutch of coins was loaded aboard.
"That high school class I took on engineering design, where we designed boats, is coming in handy!" he said, as he congratulated a 7-year-old first-grader on a boat that held a 10-penny cargo.
Nearby, parent Myisha King was trying to keep track of her three kids—Kal'el, 8, Kaiden, 6, and Angel, 13—as they explored various activity stations scattered around Barclay's busy gym.
"We came tonight because science and technology are important, and many schools don't offer as much of them as Barclay does," King said. "The kids are so happy to be here tonight, and so am I."
It was that kind of family participation and excitement around STEM activities that made the event such a success, according to Rebecca Palmisano of the Center for Educational Outreach.
"The expo is a great opportunity to bring together the JHU community with Barclay students, families, teachers, and staff while celebrating student accomplishments and engaging with hands-on STEM learning," said Palmisano, who manages programs for the JHU-Barclay STEM partnership. In 2015, Johns Hopkins and Baltimore City Public Schools announced they were teaming up to transform Barclay into the city's first pre-K through eighth grade school dedicated to giving students a foundation in engineering and computer skills.
Also serving as volunteers at the Barclay event were members of the Charm City Science League, Hopkins undergraduate students who provide science enrichment opportunities for students in Baltimore City middle schools.