NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- STEM NOLA, an affiliate of STEM Global Action (SGA), is creating an expansive STEM District in New Orleans East in the first phase of a $100 million development project reviving an abandoned 227-acre site that once housed Six Flags and Jazzland. It is an unprecedented effort to expand science, technology, education and math (STEM) education for children and adults from under-resourced communities.
This week, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell selected Bayou Phoenix LLC as the developer for the site which was shuttered after heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina. Partnering with STEM NOLA, the Bayou Phoenix plan includes the STEM education center, as well as a hotel, water park, amusement park, sports complex and a warehouse and distribution center.
Dr. Calvin Mackie, the founder of SGA and STEM NOLA, envisions tremendous opportunities for students to learn practical applications of STEM from the different components of the development. "Think of this as an exciting STEM laboratory," said Dr. Mackie. "We will be teaching students how science technology, engineering and math have major roles in the operation of the hotel, the amusement park, the water park, sports complex and everything from warehousing and logistics to robotics."
Moreover, four miles away, Dr. Mackie is already renovating a separate 42,000 square foot building into a STEM Innovation hub. "We are creating a STEM district, the most expansive effort in America to bring STEM education to Black and Brown children and adults. We want to prepare people from disadvantaged communities for quality STEM careers, jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities. Our goal is to create a destination for STEM innovation, entrepreneurship and workforce development."
Dr. Mackie thinks big. He recalled how the "Research Triangle" in Raleigh–Cary and Durham–Chapel Hill North Carolina sprung to life from the educated workforce created by the region's outstanding colleges and universities and private sector investments. "We want to emulate their success. Our STEM-educated students can fuel an economic revival for the area. This can be an example of an Opportunity Zone used to create good, rather than line the pockets of those exploiting the benefits solely for personal gain."
In 2013, Dr. Mackie founded STEM NOLA, a New Orleans-based, non-profit committed to bringing STEM education to area neighborhoods and communities at churches, community centers and schools. STEM NOLA has impacted more than 80,000 students, 20,000 families and 2,150 schools across the United States and in five other countries.
His innovative approach to STEM learning, which brings STEM education directly into urban and rural communities, has attracted support from some of America's biggest corporations, government agencies and philanthropic foundations, including the Entergy Corporation, Boeing Company, AT&T, Ochsner Health System, Chevron Corporation, Department of Defense and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
In July, as affiliates expanded throughout Louisiana, the region, across the country and in Africa, Dr. Mackie created STEM Global Action, a campaign and network of affiliates that pursues STEM education for children, parents and communities.
In addition to an informative website with a data center, newsroom and newsletter, Dr. Mackie hosts the Let's Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast series. The new episode features an insightful discussion with Dr. Carlotta A. Berry, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She is a strong advocate for diversifying the engineering profession. Also, click HERE for an archive of podcast episodes that feature interviews with guests from all aspects of STEM – entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, students. They discuss the importance of STEM in their lives today. Many are mentors for the next generation of STEM leaders, important models of success for others to follow.
Michael K. Frisby
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SOURCE STEM Global Action