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New STEM 21st Century Community Learning Center opens

3rd October 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Blair Lyons
Contributing Writer

Third through eighth grade students in the city will now get the opportunity to explore the science of magnets, solar energy and the flow of electricity, alongside hands on projects to reinforce literacy, math, and science.

On Oct. 3, STEM NOLA will launch its new STEM 21st Century Community Learning Center that will continue the organization’s current work to enhance and support science education throughout the city’s schools with this new after school program.

The new center in the Lower Ninth Ward will be housed at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and at the New Orleans Recreational Development Commission’s Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center. The weekly program will run Monday through Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The center was created by a $250,000 grant from the Louisiana Department of Edu-cation, and will impact the learning skills of roughly 120 children.

The grant supports STEM NOLA’s mission to bring science innovation to a city that continues to recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina, both a natural and engineering disaster, said Calvin Mackie, the founder of STEM NOLA, which started in 2013. This is particularly true for residents and students of the Lower Ninth Ward, he said.

“Many people, especially the students, did not know or understand the dangers of the environment or structural hazards,” said Mackie, a former professor at Tulane University. “We pledge to make sure that our children never again live below sea level and not understand such hazards or how to pick a career to participate in saving and protecting themselves.”

Mackie said he hopes the after school program and the other work being done by STEM NOLA will make the city’s children more competitive for opportunities and careers in the sciences. The program will introduce children to different types of machines and technologies used to educate them, as well as entertain their minds, he said.

“One of the purposes of this program was to be able to provide kids the opportunity to seek other careers (in technology and engineering) that they may not know of,” Mackie said.

The center, Mackie added, will support schools in underserved communities across the city to engage children early on in STEM careers that also improve the environments of the communities these students come from. For more information about the STEM NOLA program, visit

This article originally published in the October 3, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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