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“Space and Flight” was the theme of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension’s 5th annual Maryland STEM Festival.  It was chosen in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon (July 19, 1969) and the 60th Anniversary of the Goddard Space Flight Center (March 1, 1959).

Andrew Chaikin, award-winning science journalist and space historian for over three decades, was on hand for the STEM Fest Zoom Q&A.  He is best known as the author of A Man on the Moon:  The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, the definitive account of the moon missions published in 1994.  The book was the basis for Tom Hanks’ 12-part HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, which won an Emmy for the best 1998 miniseries.  Chaikin interviewed 23 out of the 24 lunar astronauts; Jack Swigert from Apollo 13’s mission was already deceased.

The free event took place November 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the UMES Engineering & Aviation Science Complex.  Some 165 participants experienced STEM activities and demonstrations such as: Robotics, 3-D Printing, Birds of Prey, Virtual Goggles, Feathers and Flight; a NASA Q&A and more. The Festival is intended for youth K-12, but all ages were welcome.

Varied topics also included animals, insects and other living things that fly, connecting the theme with the natural world and the many health and medical advances that have been made by research conducted in space.

Exhibitors from NASA/Wallops Island, UMES Academic and Research Departments (Technology, Aviation, Biology, Engineering, Agriculture and others), the Salisbury Zoo, Pocomoke/Assateague State Parks, 4-H, and many more local STEM organizations were in attendance, offering hands-on activities, information and giveaways.

“Our hope by offering the MD STEM Festival is to spark a desire and curiosity in science, technology, engineering and applied math and to inspire youth toward possible STEM careers and workforce readiness” said Lisa Murphy, one of the event’s coordinators and a UMES 4-H STEM Educator in Worcester County.

Students experience Zero Robotics at STEM Festival.
Edible bugs you say?
Dr. Xavier Henry guides students on the flight simulator.
Andrew Chaikin remotes in to deliver his informative presentation.
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