Gearing Up Students for STEM

To address the lagging performance of students in science and math, the Atlanta CARES STEMfest at Georgia Tech was held to empower students to lead in emerging STEM fields. As one of its lead sponsors, Aya Academy of Excellence steered the planning of this initiative to expose and engage metro Atlanta youth in an interactive STEM conference.

Atlanta, GA, November 30, 2012 --( "Preparing students today for an ever increasing flat world of tomorrow requires a heightened commitment to engaging youth in STEM studies," voiced Stephanie Hunte, Executive Director of the education outreach nonprofit Aya Academy of Excellence, a sponsor of the Atlanta CARES STEMfest 2012. With over 300 students and 40 parents convening on the Georgia Tech campus over the Thanksgiving weekend, this first annual youth conference ignited many bright minds who engaged with leading STEM professionals. Following a rousing keynote address by Dr. Braxton Cosby, nephew of funny man Bill Cosby, each attending student participated in a series of interactive experiences ranging in a gamut of STEM-related skills. Sessions included presentations on climate change, microbiology and robotics facilitated by faculty and alum of Emory University, Georgia Tech, Morehouse College and the University of Georgia, all of which boast top-notch STEM programs. The National Society of Black Engineers, which also lent a participatory hand to the conference, led sessions for the metro Atlanta teens on beverage processing. During the Lunch and Learn session, robotics presentations from GA Tech's CEISMC and Youth Technology Learning Center captivated the audience. The integration of art through sessions facilitated by the National Black Arts Festival provoked thought and discussion between the ties of art and science.

Highlights of the experience included a concurrent parent workshop provided to lay a foundation for college preparedness and success. "While addressing the attendees from the podium, it became apparent that the true success of the conference was the collaborative environment. With a slew of parents opting to participate in the workshops, and in many cases opting to provide service by volunteering, it became a family affair. Watching the waves of engaged children alongside their highly engaged parents was a sight to behold. That is where real change will be made in the future. Once we capitalize on harnessing the naturally supportive energy of parents to reinforce their children's academic endeavors, the trajectory of our children will assuredly change for the better," glowed Ms. Hunte.

The Atlanta CARES STEMfest, under the leadership of Ms. Brenda Coleman, was supported by numerous community stakeholders including the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta Public Schools, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Whole Foods, Dick Blick Art, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Sisters of Today and Tomorrow, Operation HOPE, the AD King Foundation and the APEX Museum. "As our nation embraces the need to promote both critical thinking and problem solving, we will effectively meet the needs our globalized economy requires. And it all starts with refocusing our energies in nurturing our youth and families with quality academic opportunities. Schools cannot close the achievement gap alone. They need the support of the community and the community needs the support of resources and experiences. The Atlanta CARES STEMfest is a critical first step in the right direction," stated Ms. Hunte.

About Aya Academy of Excellence
Aya Academy of Excellence, an outreach organization with an ardent commitment to youth development and community improvement provides tutoring, mentoring and family workshops. Its presence in the community is supported by a network of local volunteers and civic organizations. Aya Academy of Excellence is currently launching a share space, an open access academic facility with STEM, literacy, ArtEd and wellness resources and training for underserved families.

For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Stephanie Hunte, please call SharVon at 404-484-5912 or email SharVon at
Aya Academy of Excellence
SharVon Warren