After more than a year of planning, we are excited to announce that a key educational pillar of the ARISE project debuts this week. On March 7, 2024, the Build Your Future Family STEM Workshop series launches its first of three workshops.

Teresa MacDonald, associate director of informal science education at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, leads the initiative. The unique activities seek to engage youth and families through educational programming and resources that explore the connections between infrastructure, environment, and well-being. These programs also help build a diverse and competitive workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in Kansas.

Along with pizza and prizes, the events feature hands-on activity stations hosted by several community partners, as follows:

  • On March 7th, the Family STEM Night includes activities led by students from the Saturday Academy with their instructor Mary Patterson. In addition, representatives from the Wyandotte County Emergency Management will present along with grassroots environmental activist Richard Mabion, who leads the Building A Sustainable Earth Community Organization. Professional engineer Juan Carlos Banuelas, who also happens to be an alum of the Saturday Academy and TRIO program, will also present alongside three exhibits from the KU Natural History Museum.
  • On April 2nd, KU Assistant Professor and ARISE investigator Justin Hutchison will present activities with his civil engineering graduate students. There will also be more Saturday Academy students and representatives from the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities and Black & Veatch. Richard Mabion will return again, focusing on flooding issues in KCK.
  • On May 2nd, the Wichita State Environmental Finance team will facilitate a fun role-playing cooperative game where participants will have to make decisions about how to run the local water utility while responding to emergency situations and environmental finance pressures. The disaster planning exercise aims to develop critical thinking and other skills to plan for emergencies at home. This activity will also illustrate risk and help families assess vulnerabilities.

Kansas City Kansas Community College will host all three weekday evening workshops this spring on March 7, April 2, and May 2 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The events are open to students and families connected to the University of Kansas TRIO program, which supports middle and high school students on their journey to advanced degrees.

Dr. MacDonald also leads a related program for Build Your Future as a four-part Saturday series. In fall 2023, participation in this program exceeded expectations.

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