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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Tell me more about the event.
A: Black Family Technology Awareness Day is a free annual event hosted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The event is designed to spur young people’s interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The event usually features more than 20 workshops led by Rensselaer students, faculty, staff, and several area business and community organizations. The annual event is part of a nationally celebrated week of the same name.
Q: What is the purpose of Black Family Technology Awareness Day?
A: Rensselaer is a diverse community of dreamers and doers who share several characteristics. Black Family Technology Awareness Day is designed to help eliminate the science and technology gap among members of the minority community. By showcasing science and technology in a fun and interactive way, we endeavor to motivate more minority students to pursue careers in these fields. It’s also an exciting time for students and families as they spend a full day immersed in a variety of fun and interactive workshops. By organizing this program, we want engage all of the participants and encourage them to celebrate the beauty and wonder of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts.
Q: What role does Rensselaer play in developing such programs?
A: Rensselaer was established in Troy, New York, in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer “for the purpose of instructing persons ... in the application of science to the common purposes of life.” For more than 30 years, Rensselaer has been working to build a national network of K-12 pipeline partnerships that focus on identifying, nurturing, and providing educational development for promising scientists and engineers, with a special emphasis on women and underrepresented minority groups. Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson has long warned of what she has dubbed a “Quiet Crisis” in Americathe threat to the capacity of the United States to innovate due to reduced support for research and the looming shortage in the nation’s STEM workforce. We need to prepare all our children for the 21st century economy with a technical focus in mind. Effectively using technology in the 21st century is important for full participation in America’s economic, political, and social life.
Q: What is the primary goal of the event?
Black Family Technology Awareness Day is one way that we can work to make a difference in the future of our children. The annual event is part of Rensselaer’s larger effort to interest area young people and their families in pursuing occupations in the fields of science and engineering. Other “pipeline” programs include: Design Your Future Day, to engage young girls in science and engineering studies and professions; Exploring Engineering Day, to spark the interest of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in science, technology, and engineering; and Rensselaer’s Molecularium project, to teach young children about the smallest forms of matter, among others.
Q: How can I participate in the event?
A: Black Family Technology Awareness Day is a free event. Registration is required to attend. All attendees must register, and this includes group leaders, chaperons, adults, and students. Individuals can register online or at the door. Registered participants will receive a light breakfast and lunch. T-shirts will be available on a first come first served basis. To register online in advance of the event, click here. Individuals may also register on the day of the event at the Registration/ Check-in area located in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC) beginning at 8:15 a.m.
Q: Describe some of the workshops.
A: The program features more than 20 workshops for children of all ages and adults. The workshops are led by Rensselaer students, faculty, staff, and several area business and community organizations. Past workshop offerings have included: exploring the science beyond a hot beat from Beethoven to Beyonce; creating plasma art, designing key chains, building a wind turbine, learning about electric vehicles, uncovering the mysteries of laser technology, designing bridges using gumdrops, investigating different types of engineering, programming LEGO® Mindstorm robotics, experiencing the excitement of a trading floor through a simulated exercise, making models of nanoscale structures with African Hexastrip weaving, applying the laws of physics to the game of pocket billiards, and more! Please note, when selecting workshops for younger children, please consider their age as some workshops may be too advanced and require assistance from an adult.
Q: How long are the workshops and how many can I participate in?
A: Each workshop may typically run up to 45 minutes. Participants may be able to attend different workshops during the morning sessions. We ask that parents, guardians, or adult chaperones accompany any children under the age of 12 to the workshops.
Q: Are there maximum number of participants for some of the workshops?
A: Yes, some of the workshops have a maximum number of participants as noted online or in the event program. This number reflects the maximum number of people who can participate in the “hands-on” portion of the workshops, but there no limit to number of observers as long as it does not exceed the room capacity.
Q: How can I get to the Rensselaer campus?
A: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in Troy, N.Y., on a 275-acre hilltop campus overlooking the Hudson River. In the midst of a culturally rich population center surrounded by the Adirondack, Catskill, Berkshire, and Green mountains, the Rensselaer campus is only a few hours by car from Boston, New York City, and Montreal. For directions to the campus, go to: http://www.rpi.edu/virtual_tour/travel.html
Q: Where can I park?
A: Arrangements have been made for attendees to park in any of the two designated lots located on the Rensselaer campus. Parking will be available in the Parking Garage located on College Avenue, and in the Academy Hall Lot parking lot that is also located on College Avenue. Please make every effort to park in these spaces. We have other events taking place on campus that have reserved other campus lots. We cannot guarantee that space will be available in those lots. To view a map of the Rensselaer campus, visit: http://www.rpi.edu/virtual_tour/travel.html
Additionally, street parking may also be available. Park in these spaces at your discretion. Meter rules may apply so please keep that in mind.
Q: Are the event locations and parking handicap accessible?
A: The Program sessions and workshops will occur in multiple locations on the Rensselaer campus. Most buildings are handicap accessible and there is handicap parking available in both the Visitor Information Center (VIC) parking lot and the Parking Garage. We will also offer free shuttle bus service to some campus locations as indicated in the program booklet.
Q: I would like to volunteer. How can I get involved?
A: We always welcome volunteers. We are seeking individuals who are dependable, enjoy meeting people, and want to make an impact on someone’s future. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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