Brandywine hosts annual youth STEAM event

students posing for photo

The Brandywine LaunchBox held its annual Youth Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) and Startup Day on May 7.

Credit: Launch Point Labs

MEDIA, Pa. – The Brandywine LaunchBox held its annual Youth Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) and Startup Day on May 7. More than 60 seventh-grade students from four local middle schools (Haverford Middle School in Havertown, Lionville Middle School in Exton, Northley Middle School in Aston and Upper Merion Middle School in King of Prussia) attended the event to learn about physics, entrepreneurship, robotics and more.

“It was exciting to see how engaged the students were during the morning sessions of workshops led by our faculty at Penn State Brandywine,” said Tony Mattei, director of entrepreneurship and digital marketing at Brandywine and coordinator of the event. “The interactive STEAM-themed workshops gave them the opportunity to conduct hands-on experiments, test prototyping and program with code. I’m always impressed by the interest they have in the STEAM fields.”

“It was also great to see some budding entrepreneurs that shared their business ideas during our startup workshops on entrepreneurship. It always amazes me the ideas and enthusiasm that they show at such an early age. I am confident that there are future business owners among this group of students.”

Mattei collaborated with Brandywine faculty to facilitate activities and workshops for the event. Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences Laura Guertin presented on climate change, Lecturer in Engineering Megann Hedgecock hosted robotics and prototype workshops, Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics Shruti Shrestha held a workshop on electrical conductivity, Assistant Teaching Professor of Mathematics Marina Skyers held a probability workshop and Part-Time Lecturer Drew Anderson presented on natural disasters.

In addition, lunchtime keynote speakers included Melinda Emerson (also known as SmallBizLady) a seasoned entrepreneur, author, speaker and small business coach, and Eric Smith, co-founder and CEO of Launch Point Labs. Emerson, who also hosted an entrepreneurship workshop, noted how great it was to watch the students work together, although a lot of them didn’t know each other.

“Spending time with these students, helping them develop entrepreneurial thinking and understand what it’s like to develop a unique value proposition was an amazing experience,” she said.

“I put them in groups where they didn’t know one another and gave them products they use every day, like candy and candles," she added. "I made them figure out marketing ideas and how to frame the product in the marketplace. I know it was challenging for them, but it was so great watching them work together, and it was great to teach entrepreneurship to kids.”

Smith, who spoke about the importance of a minimum viable product, emphasized the importance of young students turning their ideas into a reality early on.

“Partnering with Brandywine LaunchBox is always a highlight for us. It's incredible to see students not just dreaming about possibilities, but actively working on how to turn their ideas into reality,” he said. “Amazing things happen when we encourage and support young entrepreneurs early on, and Brandywine LaunchBox is at the forefront of this effort.”

Brandywine’s Youth STEAM and Startup Day was sponsored by the Meridian Fund and the Halliday Properties Youth Programs Grant.