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STEM-Weather Day welcomed 2,300 local students to MMC
TV meteorologist Betty Davis from WPLG-TV shares the green screen with a STEM-Weather Day participant.

STEM-Weather Day welcomed 2,300 local students to MMC

January 16, 2020 at 3:07pm

By Erik Salna

Clouds formed at Modesto A. Maidique Campus last week. But it wasn’t mother nature behind it. The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science mixed hot water and liquid nitrogen together to produce the cloud-like effect as part of FIU’s STEM-Weather Day.

The FIU Extreme Events Institute and the FIU College of Engineering and Computing partnered with FIU Athletics to organize a day that welcomed 2,300 elementary and middle school students from 21 Miami-Dade County schools, filling the outside plaza in front of the FIU Ocean Bank Convocation Center.

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Erik Salna is the associate director for Education and Outreach with the FIU International Hurricane Research Center in the  Extreme Events Institute. In this piece, Salna shares the activities that brought 2,300 local students to campus.
The event—which also included pizza and a Conference USA FIU women’s basketball game that resulted in victory over North Texas, 58 to 56— was an opportunity to promote STEM career fields and focus on STEM education, through interactive, hands-on, fun activities and demonstrations, which included the NSF-NHERI Wall of Wind team and wind tunnel; Engineering on Wheels; robotics; and being a TV weathercaster along with local TV meteorologists Ariel Rodriguez from Telemundo and Betty Davis from WPLG-TV.

“Our STEM-Weather Day at FIU not only focuses on showcasing the exceptional academic side to FIU, but it also gives the students in attendance the chance to view a live FIU Athletics event, giving them a glimpse of the collegiate student life,” said Brad Matthews, assistant athletic director.

The goal was to provide education and fun. But, it was also to provide a lasting positive memory of FIU so that the participating young students would then consider attending FIU as a student or student-athlete.

“The event was a wonderful way to combine STEM and sports and expand the minds of the children. The event appealed to every type of student whether they like science or they like sports. I hope to one day get a visiting student in my office that tells me they chose the FIU College of Engineering and Computing for their education because of attending STEM-Weather Day,” said Julie O. Vallejos, program coordinator at College of Engineering & Computing for the Center for Diversity and Student Success.

It was a total FIU team effort, including meteorology and engineering students, the Institute of Environment/Sea Level Solutions Center, College of Arts, Sciences and Education – Education & Outreach and the FIU FAST (Florida Advanced Surgical Transport) Team.

Participating community partners included Miami-Dade County Emergency Management, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, the American Red Cross and NOAA’s National Weather Service Miami Office, the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the National Hurricane Center. Ken Graham, director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center, spent time with the students and teachers and did a presentation at center court at half-time of the basketball game.

The team of community partners represented the agencies and organizations that help South Florida before, during and after a hurricane.