Virtual Black Families Technology Awareness Day 2021

Download the Digital Program (PDF)

2021 marks the 21st edition of the Rensselaer Black Families Technology Awareness Day. For the first time the event will be held virtually on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. This year's theme is "STEM: Solving Life's Problems."

Families from the Capital Region, across New York and the United States, and across the world are invited to attend. The day will kick-off with a welcome and address from the Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and remarks by the Honorable Paul Tonko, congressman for New York's 20th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Honorable Patrick Madden, mayor of Troy. Their remarks will be followed by a variety of programs in which participants will:

  • Engage in immersive STEM activities appropriate for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 with Rensselaer students.
  • Learn how to prepare for college and career opportunities in STEM fields with Rensselaer students and pre-college professionals.
  • Meet with Rensselaer students and faculty who will introduce research being conducted at Rensselaer in engineering, science and computer science, humanities, arts, social sciences, architecture, and management, including university efforts to combat COVID-19.

Events will take place between noon and 4 p.m. EST. Program details below.

Those interested in attending should REGISTER NOW.  

Registration will continue up until the start of the event on Feb. 20. Beginning Feb. 19, registrants will be sent a reminder notice and link(s) for the programs they have registered for.

Questions about the day should be directed to BFTAD 2021.

Accordion

Information for Participants and Volunteers

2021 Programs

Programs below are confirmed as of 1/22/2021. Continue to check back for additions.

Programs for K - 2nd grade students

  • Engineering Structures (RPI Engineering Ambassadors)
    • We will begin to learn what engineers consider when designing and building a super strong structure. Then, gather different materials from your home to plan and build a creative structure to test under different weights.  What types of materials?  Gather items to act as the structure foundation such as spaghetti (all types), Popsicle sticks, Q-tips, toothpicks, and materials to connect the structure such as Play-Doh, marshmallows, etc.  It is a great opportunity to be creative and pretend to be a civil/structural engineer. 

Programs for 3rd - 5th grade students

  • Marshmallow Engineering: Building Your Own Bridges and Towers (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity)
    • Join the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., for an interactive introduction to the field of engineering and discover how engineering has been influenced by Black innovators in the past. This activity will teach students about basic engineering statics as it pertains to structures that are both wide and tall, while also sharing inspiring stories of Black engineers and inventors in a variety of fields.
  • How Engineers Are Saving the Turtles  (RPI Engineering Ambassadors)
    • This presentation focuses on the engineering solutions being developed to combat increasing plastic pollution. Students will learn how plastic is made using a process called polymerization, and how plastic ends up in the seas and oceans and does not breakdown. Students will learn how engineers are designing solutions for the pollution, as well as the best practices of recycling. Students will participate in an online game.
  • Engineering Life: Water Filtration (RPI Engineering Ambassadors)
    • Students will learn about the importance of access to clean water. They will learn about how water can be polluted, the natural water cycle, and engineered processes to clean water such as coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration techniques. Students will be able to build a gravity filter to "clean" water.
  • Fold and Fly! (Coding && Community)
    • This workshop is designed to introduce students to algorithms and the importance of them in computer science. Students will learn about algorithms by arranging the different steps to make and fly a paper airplane. Students will then discuss with each other the ideal steps to make an airplane and how these algorithms apply to computer science and everyday life. Parents are encouraged to attend this session with their children.
  • Wind Turbine Workshop (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will build a wind turbine that generates electricity using an LED light. This teaches students the different sources of energy and how we can help the planet by using these types of resources. Participants will be introduced to the different fields of STEM that deal with turbines in this hands-on program (Adult help will be needed.)
  • Penny Battery (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will create a battery using pennies and an LED to show results. This shows the student something similar to the first battery made. Participants will then be introduced to the concept behind storing power in batteries today (Adult help will be needed.)
  • Escape the Maze (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
    • This activity will introduce students to programming and some basic core concepts programmers will often use. Students will then be able to apply what they've learned as they attempt to escape a maze and draw pictures with Turtle graphics using block coding.

Programs for 6th - 8th grade students

  • How the Electric Grids Power Your Home (RPI Engineering Ambassadors)
    • Looking all around you, it's easy to recognize that much of our world is powered through electricity. The national network of the electric grid delivers power from the power plant to your home. The participants will learn the basics of electricity, and the design of electric circuits. Students will then be invited to design a power system to light up a stadium for a sporting event using an online simulation.
  • Drag Force: Shape Matters (RPI Engineering Ambassadors)
    • Participants will learn about the basics of drag force and the importance of understanding the impact and consequences of it on engineering everyday products.  Students will also learn how engineers test and model drag on different items such as vehicles, sporting equipment, etc., to improve performance.
  • Fold and Fly! (Coding && Community)
    • This workshop is designed to introduce students to algorithms and the importance of them in computer science. Students will learn about algorithms by arranging the different steps to make and fly a paper airplane. Students will then discuss with each other the ideal steps to make an airplane and how these algorithms apply to computer science and everyday life. Parents are encouraged to attend this session with their children.
  • Wind Turbine Workshop (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will build a wind turbine that generates electricity using an LED light. This teaches students the different sources of energy and how we can help the planet by using these types of resources. Participants will be introduced to the different fields of STEM that deal with turbines in this hands-on program (Adult help will be needed.)
  • Penny Battery (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will create a battery using pennies and an LED to show results. This shows the student something similar to the first battery made. Participants will then be introduced to the concept behind storing power in batteries nowadays. (adult help will be needed).
  • How Engineers Build Bridges (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
    • In this activity, students will learn about the fundamentals of building a bridge and how civil engineers make sure they are functional and safe for public use. Students will then be able to build their own bridges in an online simulation and test their efficiency in supporting cars and trucks that may pass over it. Participants will be asked to download free software prior to the start of the session. 
  • Escape the Maze (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
    • This activity will introduce students to programming and some basic core concepts programmers will often use. Students will then be able to apply what they've learned as they attempt to escape a maze and draw pictures with Turtle graphics using block coding.
  • Scratching the Surface of STEM (Black Graduate Student Association)
    • This world is jam-packed with many curiosities and marvels. When we take the time to understand how the world around us works, we are capable of great things! How we use this knowledge and how we tackle problems allows us to explore deeper within ourselves. Join the BGSA as we explore STEM as a whole and try our hand at something new—coding!

Programs for 9th - 12th graders

  • Advancing Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Biomedical Engineering Department)
    • Talk with a Ph.D. student about biomedical research and the progression taking place in the field of biomedicine during a global pandemic. Participants can learn about one of the many types of research conducted at Rensselaer and how to move forward with a career in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • How To Begin Planning a Career in Esports (Esports Campus and Community Collaboration)
    • Students and their parents will learn about the billion-dollar industry of esports and how to begin planning a career in this exciting, fast-paced industry. Numerous careers are available in esports ranging from computer science, game development, equipment development, business management, brand marketing, and event management. Gaming curriculum develops critical thinking and offers a number of career paths, including engineering, design, and health care professions, among others. Panelists will include industry esports professionals, community esports professionals, game developers, and campus representatives.
  • Journey to a STEM Career (RPI Engineering Ambassadors) 
    • Engineering students share the story on why they decided to pursue a STEM career and the challenges they had to overcome along the way.  This program will introduce a panel of engineering students with different backgrounds from across the country. The students will address how they discovered their interest in their career path, how they prepared in their secondary schools, the obstacles they faced, and knowing what they know now, what would they do differently.
  • Wind Turbine Workshop (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will build a wind turbine that generates electricity using a LED light. This teaches of the different sources of energy and how we can help the planet by using these types of resources. Participants will be introduced to the different fields of STEM that deal with turbines in this hands-on program.
  • Penny Battery (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • Students will create a battery using pennies and an LED to show results. This shows the student something similar to the first battery made. Participants will then be introduced to the concept behind storing power in batteries nowadays. (Adult help will be needed.)
  • STEM Career Panel (National Society of Black Engineers)
    • In this workshop, Rensselaer students will discuss their lives after being introduced to STEM and explain why they chose engineering in school and what they want to do for a career. The workshop is intended to inspire high school students through a conversation about achievements and goals and inform them of the many opportunities that are presented by being involved in the science community.
  • College and Beyond (Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering Department)
    • Join a current Ph.D. candidate and thesis adviser for a discussion on making the most out of your college experience. Topics to be discussed include: defining your goals, navigating the undergrad experience, potential career choices including graduate school, and funding opportunities (internships/fellowships/etc.). There will also be a Q&A segment.
  • How Engineers Build Bridges (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
    • In this activity, students will learn about the fundamentals of building a bridge and how civil engineers make sure they are functional and safe for public use. Students will then be able to build their own bridges in an online simulation and test their efficiency in supporting cars and trucks that may pass over it. Participants will be asked to download free software prior to the start of the session. 
  • Pursuing a Degree and Career in Architecture (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students)
    • Rensselaer architecture students will discuss how to apply to architecture school and what schools look for in an application and the important portfolio. They will discuss career paths for those with an architecture degree and answer questions.

Parent Programs

  • Journey to a STEM Career (RPI Engineering Ambassadors) 
    • Engineering students share their story on why they decided to pursue a STEM career and the challenges they had to overcome along the way.  This program will introduce a panel of engineering students from different backgrounds from all across the country.  The students will address how they discovered their interest in their career path, how they prepared in their secondary schools, the obstacles they faced, and knowing what they know now, what would they do differently.
  • College and Beyond (Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering Department)
    • Join a current Ph.D. student and thesis advisor for a discussion on making the most out of your college experience. Topics to be discussed include: Defining your goals, navigating the undergrad experience, potential career choices including graduate school, funding opportunities (internships/fellowships/etc.), and Q&A.
  • Pursuing a Degree and Career in Architecture (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students)
    • Rensselaer architecture students will discuss how to apply to architecture school and what schools look for in an application and the important portfolio. They will discuss career paths of an architecture degree, and answer questions.
  • How to Begin Planning A Career in Esports (Esports Campus and Community Collaboration)
    • Students and their parents will learn about the billion-dollar industry of esports and how to begin planning a career in this exciting, fast-paced industry. Numerous careers are available in esports ranging from computer science, game development, equipment development, business management, brand marketing, and event management. Gaming curriculum develops critical thinking and offers a number of career paths, including engineering, design, and health care professions, among others. Panelists will include industry esports professionals, community esports professionals, game developers, and campus representatives.
Request for Program Proposals

We are now accepting proposals from faculty, student groups, and alumni to conduct virtual programming that will inform and excite young people about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Programs should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Hands-on STEM activities with items that are commonly found in homes
    • Grades K-2
    • Grades 3-5
    • Grades 6-8
    • Grades 10-12
  • Lecture and interactive programs, including panel discussions on college preparedness and on STEM Careers
    • Grades 10-12
    • Parents
  • Lectures on Rensselaer research (e.g., COVID-19, Jefferson Project, departmental research, etc.)
    • Grades 6-12
    • Parents

The programs should be up to 55 minutes in length. They will be offered between noon and 4 p.m., and you will be able to conduct more than one program if you are interested.

SUBMIT PROPOSALS HERE; they are due no later than Feb 5, 2021.

Contact bftad@rpi.edu with questions.

Program Sponsors

Gold Level Sponsors

  • Flavours by Sodexo at Rensselaer

Silver Level Sponsors

Bronze Level Sponsors

  • Applied Biophysics
  • Campito Companies
  • Capital Bank, A Division of Chemung Canal Trust Company
  • Weston & Sampson PE, LS, LA, PC