More than 500 attendees, including elementary and middle school students and their parents, participated in hands-on demonstrations during the Fort Meade Alliance’s (FMA) STEM Family Night, held recently in the food court of Arundel Mills.

Representatives from several Fort Meade-area companies in various industries provided interactive exhibits to spark curiosity in the students and encourage their interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

During the event, students created electricity, operated robots, constructed small scale bridges, used 3-D headsets to experience a virtual reality and cracked coded messages.

STEM Family Night is held annually in the fall. The presenters were Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), Anne Arundel County Public Library, the Anne Arundel County Public School Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Grant, Baltimore Washington Medical Center (BWMC), Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), Lockheed Martin, the National Electronics Museum, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

  • In a series of science experiments, AACC allowed students to build and test series and parallel circuits, categorize materials according to their magnetic properties and test the connection between electricity and magnetism.
  • Anne Arundel County Public Library gave students a first-hand look at the circuit system inside robots that allow them to move around, while the Power Hawks Robotics team brought several robots for attendees to operate.
  • The Anne Arundel County Public School DoDEA Grant Project offered two activities, giving students the opportunity to learn about coding with their “Bee Bots,” while other students tested the strength of small scale bridges they built with K’NEX materials.
  • Baltimore Washington Medical Center (BWMC) created a side-by-side comparison of a healthy lung versus a smoker’s lung to discourage smoking.
  • The Community College of Baltimore County’s Fab Lab demonstrated a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine and how to take a 2-D computer-generated design and translate it to the machine to be milled.
  • Lockheed Martin demonstrated radio frequencies by encouraging the students to make wave patterns using a slinky and by playing a game of “Whack-A-Signal” where they had to match frequency signals on a computer screen using a keyboard.
  • The National Electronics Museum, which showcased how electricity and currents are carried through different conductors, gave students the opportunity to “be a battery” and make a light bulb glow, as well as try out other electronic device demonstrations.
  • NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum assisted the students in encrypting and decrypting their own secret messages, using an authentic World War II Enigma machine, and NSA K-12 Outreach had students solve logic puzzles and use mathematical strategies to play games.
  • The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. provided 3-D reality headsets that were programmed with images of current and future Whiting-Turner projects in the region.